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UNHCR and WFP sound the alarm over looming humanitarian aid disruption in Cameroon

UNHCR and WFP sound the alarm over looming humanitarian aid disruption in Cameroon

Paru le mercredi, 27 mars 2024 14:56

There is a risk of halting vital food assistance to refugees in Cameroon, due to funding shortfall, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned in a joint statement issued on 26 March. According to the WFP, $23.1 million (nearly XAF14 billion at current dollar value)  is urgently needed to help more than 222,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria currently living in the Far North, Adamaoua, North and East regions.

If these funding gaps are not filled urgently, these people risk losing access to the food aid they need. According to the two UN agencies, insufficient funding has already forced the WFP to reduce rations for refugees in these regions by 50%, leading to the distribution of incomplete food baskets since the end of 2023 with missing products such as pulses, vegetable oil, and salt. The organization is considering further ration cuts if the requested financial contributions are not forthcoming soon.

"Without immediate support, we will have no option but to further cut the already meager portions on refugees’ plates, with all the devastating impacts this will bring including rising malnutrition and hunger, exposure to protection risks, and families resorting to desperate strategies to cope, including pulling children out of school and eating less food – affecting, especially women and children," said Wanja Kaaria, WFP Representative and Country Director, quoted in the document. "We are grateful for generous donor funding in Cameroon and we are hopeful that donors will step up and help address our funding gaps, helping us to avoid further cuts to those who have already lost everything due to conflict, violence, and natural disasters," she added.

As of 31 December 2023, donors had contributed $125.8 million to the humanitarian response for Cameroon (or more than CFAF 76 billion at current US dollar values), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) last February. However, this represents only 31% of needs. In other words, 69% of humanitarian needs have not been met in the country in 2023. As a result, limited funding has led to a reduction in the humanitarian assistance provided to the population, depriving them of essential assistance and protection services, according to OCHA.

"The food ration cut is a forecast of the escalating protection crises in Cameroon which is now affecting the most basic human right of the forcibly displaced people in the country - the right to food," says Olivier Guillaume Beer, UNHCR's representative in Cameroon, also quoted in the press release. He believes that further cuts in rations could disrupt existing social cohesion, particularly given reports of protests from refugee communities. "Thus, we appeal to donor governments to support refugees in accessing the much-needed food and remain healthy," he said. 

With three complex humanitarian crises - the conflict in the Lake Chad Basin affecting the Far North, the Anglophone crisis, and the influx of refugees to the East fleeing the violence in CAR - Cameroon is facing multiple humanitarian challenges, fuelled by violence, climatic shocks, and epidemics. In December 2023, 4.7 million people needed humanitarian assistance in the country, of whom more than 2 million were on the move as refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees, according to the UN. Although the Cameroon government is making significant efforts to address the humanitarian situation, the UNHCR, and WFP believe that additional support is urgently needed to meet the immediate food and nutrition needs of families affected by the crisis. Early last year, the European Union pledged 11 billion CFA francs in humanitarian aid to Cameroon.

Patricia Ngo Ngouem

● Fact Cheking



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