United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that 4 million people have been affected by the ongoing conflict in North West and South West. About 1.3 million are in need, 820, 000 targeted for assistance, 530, 000 internally displaced, 376 people in need in host communities and 330, 000 others in need, CNA has gathered.
In it’s 5th report on the prevailing situation, the OCHA said, acute humanitarian needs continue to be no the increase in North-West and South-West regions, requiring further scaleup of humanitarian assistance and protection
• Three months into the year, humanitarian partners continue to scale up and expand reach, but needs continue to outpace available resources
• Despite the challenging operating environment, humanitarian partners are maintaining access and have this month reached over 42,000 of the most vulnerable with emergency livelihood assistance or general dry food alone. In Meme and Manyu divisions (SW), humanitarian partners distributed 4,000 shelter and 6,000 NFI kits with basic necessities
• Protection remains a key priority and protection partners have sensitized over 1,038 people on gender-based violence (GBV), child protection and human right violations.
• The health partners in SW and NW assured access to a timely and equitable package of basic health care services to 3,703 persons affected by the crisis.
• Coordinated efforts of the Health, Shelter/NFI and WASH clusters allowed for distribution of 4,100 Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) through WASH partners and 7,400 LLINs distributed through health partners in NW and SW.
• The WASH partners reached about 9,000 people in the NW and 800 in the SW with hygiene promotion activities, and 1,000 and 700 with sanitation-related activities in the NW and SW.
Violence against civilians in North-West and South-West regions continues to have a serious impact on livelihoods and generate acute humanitarian needs. The rainy session is making access to goods and services even more difficult for both IDPs and local population, for those internally displaced who are hiding in the forest. Several sectoral and multi-sectoral assessments all conclude that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. Priority humanitarian needs include access to basic services like health care, education and drinking water, NFIs and food. Survivors of violence and abuse need access to better protection.
Efforts to maintain access include a strong focus on enabling acceptance and there were some indications this month that acceptance of humanitarian activity is improving. Statements were issued by associates of armed groups indicating improved understanding and respect for humanitarian principles. These statements have been widely disseminated across social media.
The security situation continues to be of serious concern with civilian casualties, destruction of property, abductions and allegations of burning down houses and property destroyed. Dozens of houses have been affected in Warr, Taku Weh, Keifekah, Kesu-Wum, Mbessa and Mbongong (all NW). On 18 March, three men accused of doing fortification rituals for non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Nkor (NW) were reportedly shot. The same day, three alleged members of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Bambalang and Oku (NW) were killed.
On 21 March, a NSAG camp in Mmock Mbie (SW) and allegedly killed three fighters of the group Red Dragons. During the period 21-28 March, incident levels were particularly high in Wum (NW) resulting in five people killed by the military. NSAGs continue abducting civilians and government employees and attacking education facilities. For example, on 8 March, NSAGs abducted the chief of Mbipgo village (NW) before releasing him hours later.
The same day, NSAGs reportedly abducted 15 members of the University of Buea (SW) football team and a former Minister, Emmanuel Ngafeson, in Bamenda (NW) before releasing them on 21 and 31 March respectively. The head coach of Yong Sport Academy, a football club in Bamenda (NW) was kidnapped before being released hours later. On the night of 30 March, a fire destroyed the Muyuka district hospital. All patients and medical personnel were successfully evacuated. The regional Delegate of health launched an investigation into the cause of the incident. The position of the Government of SW is that the hospital was not attacked but it was burned by the fire due to an electrical problem.
Humanitarian access remains a challenge in the two regions and OCHA is coordinating with partners to improve acceptance and expand access. In both regions OCHA engages the partners through the established access working groups in analyzing the various access constraints experienced and develops approaches to influence behavior of the parties to the conflict obstructing access in the field. Four access meetings took place this month: on the 1 and 22 March in the South-West and on 1 and 28 March in the North-West. A series of key documents and administrative procedures have been developed to enable compliance of humanitarian actors with government requirements.
This is expected to minimize administrative impediments, including harassment at checkpoints and undue demands for information by local authorities in some areas. So far, partners who have used it have provided positive feedback. Experience shared in both access working groups by operational actors has led to compiling of ground rules (do’s and don’ts) as a guidance of good practice to obtain trust of all stakeholders, namely the parties to the conflict as well as the beneficiary communities, dispel misconceptions and promote the principled humanitarian approach with neutrality at its core. Adopting a unified approach by all actors is critical to achieving acceptance and credibility of principled humanitarian operations and enable navigation in a humanitarian ‘corridor’ between the conflicting parties towards the civilian population in need.