By Simon D
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA, and partner Non-Governmental Organisations, NGO, involved in humanitarian works in Cameroon, have on Saturday, August 17, 2019, commemorated the World Humanitarian Day in the Bamenda Metropolitan Cathedral hall.
This year’s commemoration which has been dedicated to “Celebrating Women Humanitarians”, saw some NGOs taking rounds to present their activities in Cameroon in general and in the North-West Region which is wrecked by the current conflict in particular. Present at the venue were World Food Program (WFP), Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan International, Caritas, LUKMEF, UN Women among others.
According to WFP, Cameroon has been significantly affected by the recent crises and instabilities, leaving some 392,499 refugees, 687,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable local host communities, all requiring assistance for long-term livelihood recovery especially in the North West, South-West and Far-North Regions. The number of people facing food insecurity in Cameroon is estimated at 3 million, including 198,000 severely food insecure. About 62,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
In the North-West Region, WFP said she has assisted about 92000+ IDPs through her partners with food items. On the other hand, the NRC and Plan International combined, have assisted about 19,500 IDPs with non-food items.
Despite the aid brought by these mainstream humanitarian Organisations and partners, UNOCHA laments that so far, only about 20% of refugee needs and 12% of IDPs needs have been provided due to a number of factors limiting them.
The Co-ordinator of the WFP for the North West Region cited that humanitarian activities are being hindered by insecurity in most rural areas. He went ahead to say humanitarian workers have been kidnapped, tortured and threatened. In some extreme instances aid have been confiscated and destroyed or the aid and workers sent back.
Roadblocks and refusal by most transporters to transport aid to many areas where it is desperately needed have given them a severe setback. Consequently, many areas are still to receive aid. In what sounded like a plea to the parties engaged in the recent conflict in the North-West and South-West Regions, he made it clear that WFP and her partners DO NOT receive any aid from the Cameroon government nor Ambazonian activists, nor do they take side in any conflict and so should not be a target by either side.
The event that was also characterised by the presentation of sketches and poetry paying tribute to the woman, ended up with a panel discussion and a question and answer session from members of the public present.
World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. Because 19 August this year falls on a ghost town day in Anglophone Cameroon, the event was held earlier.