Cameroon hosts about two million displaced persons, including one million internally displaced persons, 460,000 refugees and asylum-seekers and 466,000 IDP returnees. The refugees are predominantly from the Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria, while the internally displaced persons mainly come from Cameroon’s far north, northwest, and southwest regions.
Most of the 332,000 CAR refugees reside in towns and villages in Cameroon’s eastern front, while nearly 120,000 Nigerian refugees live in Cameroon’s far north region. 52% of the refugees are women and girls, and 55% are children. 51% of internally displaced persons in Cameroon are children.
Due to tensions between English-speaking communities and the central government, violence in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon has intensified sharply since 2016. The restricted humanitarian access to the two regions, and the significant presence of spontaneous refugee settlements in the region close to Nigeria, make it difficult to monitor displacement. However, the anglophone crisis counted 712,800 internally displaced persons (IDPs), 334,000 returnees in Cameroon (OCHA), and over 68,000 Cameroonian refugees registered in Nigeria (UNHCR).
The main humanitarian needs of Cameroonian refugees and IDPs are related to protection, food and water, sanitation, and hygiene. Insecurity and roadblocks in the northwest and the southwest regions have been obstructing humanitarian access, preventing the delivery of aid to affected people.
Furthermore, the education sector has been particularly affected in 2021, with more than 700,000 children deprived of education across the northwest and southwest regions.
“Initiatives to foster fraternity among all local cultural, ethnic and religious groups” are needed, as Pope Francis stressed when speaking of the situations of conflict and humanitarian crisis affecting Cameroon.