Human Rights Watch has said Cameroon government needs to allow local flights of humanitarian organizations to reach to those in need in the far north, south west and north west regions, especially during this COVID-19 period “The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding at a time of crisis across Cameroon, particularly in the Anglophone regions and in the country’s Far North region,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “More needs to be done to ensure that those at greatest risk and those who are fleeing fighting are protected from infection and able to get care if they become sick.”
“In the North-West and South-West regions, health facilities have been badly affected by the violence, exacerbating a situation in which the hospitals, like many across the country, lack capacity and equipment. According to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, only 34 percent of health facilities are functional in the Anglophone regions. Since late 2016, many health facilities have been shut down, attacked, or burned. Medical staff has been assaulted, threatened, or forced to flee, depriving people of access to medical care.” A statement from HRW read.
The HRW went further to emphasis that, “Cameroon’s government should ensure that its response to the COVID-19 pandemic respects rights and prioritizes support for those who need it most, including in violence-affected areas. The authorities should allow unhindered access to aid organizations in conflict zones to deliver life-saving assistance. Health officials have confirmed over 800 cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths as of April 10, 2020, the majority in the cities of Yaoundé and Douala. The actual number of cases is most likely higher since testing is limited. The country has only four testing laboratories, three of them in Yaoundé, the capital.”
The HRW wants local flights to resume, “To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government has suspended flights by aid groups, jeopardizing their operations. The head of an international humanitarian organization based in Cameroon told Human Rights Watch: “Since over three weeks, humanitarian flights have been grounded. UN agencies and non-governmental organizations continue to ask the government to resume them. These flights are key to reach the most vulnerable people living in remote areas. With the virus rapidly spreading, this is exactly the time when the Cameroon’s government needs to facilitate our work.”In an April 8 news release, the United States Embassy said that Cameroon’s government should allow the UN Humanitarian Air Service to resume its flights and allow aid workers and medical supplies “to assist people in need and fight COVID-19.”