The flag of Cameroon- CC via Wikimedia
GENEVA - 21 June 2019: Some 1.3 million people, including around 650,000 children, are now in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, as the security situation and living conditions continue to deteriorate. Around 450,000 of these people, half of whom are children, are internally displaced.
Children and their families are suffering amidst and fleeing armed violence, attacks on their homes and schools, abduction, sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups. Imposed lockdowns, or ghost-town days, set in place by non-state armed groups, are affecting people’s freedom of movement and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Thousands of people lack access or have reduced access to basic services such as healthcare and safe drinking water, and livelihoods have been destroyed.
As of December 2018, an estimated 40 percent of health facilities in the South-West region were not functioning.
The crisis escalated out of protests in the Anglophone region calling for greater autonomy nearly three years ago and has also had a devastating impact on children’s right to an education.
For many children, it has been three years since they last stepped foot in a classroom. Due to a ban on education by non-state armed groups and attacks, over 80 per cent of schools have been closed, affecting more than 600,000 children.
At least 74 schools have been destroyed, while students, teachers and school personnel have been exposed to violence, abduction and intimidation.
Since 2018, more than 300 students and teachers have been kidnapped. After traumatic experiences, they were all subsequently released.
The targeting of education is putting the future of an entire generation of children at risk, children who with the right support and opportunities can build a more stable and prosperous future.
Schools and classrooms must provide safe spaces for children to learn, to be with their friends and to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives. When children are out of school they face a higher risk of recruitment by armed groups and are more likely to be exposed to child marriage, early pregnancy, and the accompanying trauma and long lasting emotional distress that these experiences bring.
While humanitarian access continues to be a challenge, UNICEF and partners are doing what we can to reach and improve the lives of children and people in need.