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|2020 planning figures|
|20,000||refugees from CAR will get information on conditions of return and on return plans|
|9,000||IDPs will receive identity documents|
|4,000||refugees from CAR will receive production kits or inputs for agriculture, livestock and fisheries activities|
|3,000||stateless persons will be assisted with civil status registration or documentation|
|28||Nigerian refugee households will have access to alternative or renewable energy|
|2018 year-end results|
|96%||of primary school-aged children were enrolled in primary education|
|92%||of births were attended by skilled personnel|
|80%||of SGBV survivors received appropriate support|
|80%||of identified people of concern with disabilities received specific services|
|54%||of leadership/management structures included active female participants|
|20,000||internally displaced households received emergency shelters in the South-West region|
People of Concern
Operational contextThe conflicts in both Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) had spill-over effects, increasing insecurity in border areas with Cameroon – especially along the north-western border with Nigeria. The conflict in the Far North led to a generalized suspicion towards certain groups, including Nigerian refugees, inspiring a much more restrictive policy with regard to refugees; including an encampment policy for Nigerian refugees, limited access to asylum; and repeated forceful/involuntary returns of newly arrived refugees.
Along the eastern border, crime rates were reported to have risen with the arrival of refugees from the CAR, and there were concerns that the largely unemployed and disenfranchised refugee youth were at risk of radicalization. Prospects for return or other durable solutions are limited, even if the peace agreement signed in 2018 brought back discussions about a Tripartite Agreement between Cameroon, CAR and UNHCR to facilitate voluntary returns when and if the situation in CAR will stabilize.
The influx of refugees from Nigeria and CAR placed greater strain on remote and poor border regions, with refugee-hosting regions (Adamawa, East, North and the Far North) presenting the lowest human development indicators and deepest levels of poverty in the country. Altogether, they account for 66% of the poor households in the country with only 38% of the total population. Despite the challenging environment, refugees continued to arrive.
Given the complexity and volatility of the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region, safe and dignified voluntary returns were not a viable option in 2018. Irrespective, spontaneous returns were reported. UNHCR remains fully committed to the implementation of the 2017 Tripartite Agreement once conditions for safe and dignified returns will be met.
Finally, the conflict in the North and South West regions between separatist non-state actors and the Cameroonian army increased in the course of 2018, producing population displacement within the two regions, towards other parts of Cameroon and the flight of 32,000 Cameroonian refugees to Nigeria. UNHCR took the lead of the Protection and Shelter/NFI clusters and started the response to the needs of IDPs, in collaboration with other UN agencies.
Population trendsCameroon hosted a total of 380,330 refugees at the end of 2018. Some 40,000 refugees from CAR arrived in 2018, while the estimated number of returnees to CAR was 5,000. The total number of refugees from CAR stood at some 223,200 at year-end. The number of Nigerian refugees increased by 10%, to approximately 100,000. Close to 60,000 refugees are reported to be residing in urban areas.
At the end of 2018, there were a total of 668,490 IDPs throughout the country, including some 437,000* IDPs in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon, and about 280,000 people who remained internally displaced in the Far North.
* OCHA figure. Government estimate: 152,000.
- Approximately 49,000 school-aged refugee children were enrolled in school in 2018 as a result of advocacy and assistance provided by UNHCR.
- Water supply was reinforced in 7 villages in the Far North region, benefitting both people of concern and host communities.
- Protection coordination and monitoring were established in the South-West region increasing access to affected populations and enhancing data collection on human right abuses.
- Some 25% of adult women did not receive sanitary kits.
- Births that took place outside or far from main settlements were not registered within the usual 90 days. Due to the large geographical size of the border area between Cameroon and Nigeria, coupled with limited resources, UNHCR was unable to carry out border and protection monitoring to the extent necessary in order to prevent all refoulement cases.
- Due to limited funding, medical assistance to urban refugees was constrained, allowing UNHCR only to assist the most vulnerable cases. Livelihood support for urban refugees was also inadequate.
- Due to funding shortfall, delays were noted in addressing the capacity-building needs of authorities in terms of international protection.
UNHCR anticipates the protection environment for refugees in Cameroon to become more challenging in 2018. The spill-over effect and increased insecurity in border areas resulting from conflicts in Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Nigeria, coupled with the possibility of political tensions surrounding upcoming elections, can shrink the humanitarian space further. In addition, continuous demographic pressure on natural resources and social services continue to cast a level of uncertainty on peaceful coexistence, thus having a negative impact on the protection space for refugees. The prospects for return and other durable solutions are limited and the presence of Central African refugees in the eastern regions of Cameroon is becoming a protracted crisis. The results of the five major elections planned in Cameroon for 2018, presidential, senatorial, legislative, regional and municipal elections, could have an impact on asylum and refugee matters.
Cameroon has a long history of providing asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees. Cameroon hosts over 320,000 refugees, including Nigerians in the Far North, Central Africans the Eastern border regions, and refugees of different nationalities in urban centres. The land for Minawao refugee camp has been provided by the authorities. While the majority of Central African refugees are living amongst host communities, some 30 per cent live in the camps (Djohone, Gado and Lolo) on land also provided by the authorities. The presence of large numbers of refugees is exacerbating pre-existing structural challenges, resulting in increased fragility and potential risk to social cohesion in the affected areas, a risk amplified by increasing pressure on the natural environment and scarce natural resources. Access to basic services is limited, rates of identity documentation and birth certificates are lower than national averages and these regions (East, Adamaoua, North and the Far North) are largely isolated from the rest of the country.
In 2018, UNHCR remains committed to assume its humanitarian coordination responsibilities at various levels, to reinforce and diversify partnerships with development actors, international financial institutions —including the World Bank and the African Development Bank— and private sector actors, and most importantly, to further deepen its engagement with government counterparts regarding the management of all refugee-related matters.
UNHCR will continue to empower and include refugees and other people of concern in the programme management process and provide protection and multi-sector assistance taking into account the age, gender and diversity (AGD) specificities. It will gradually implement cash-based interventions in sectors and areas where protection risks are minimal and opportunities exist, such as education and livelihood.
UNHCR and the Governments of Nigeria and Cameroon signed a tripartite agreement on 2 March 2017 to address the voluntary repatriation of Nigerians. Cameroonian IDPs in the Far North region are also expected to return to their villages of origin. A technical working group developed a plan of action for repatriation activities planned to begin in January 2018, subject to conditions for return deemed conducive.
Particular emphasis will be put on strengthening the strategic alliance with the World Bank in Cameroon. The expected allocation of funds for refugees and refugee-hosting areas under the International Development Association plan for 2018-2020 is in line with UNHCR’s strategy, and complements UNHCR’s humanitarian efforts in the Far North region. UNHCR will also work to maintain its partnership with the African Development Bank that has contributed funds to activities in 2015-2017 for humanitarian response in CAR and Nigeria.