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Anglophone Crisis: Civil Society Organisations Unveil Troubling humanitarian concerns in Profiles of IDPs in Buea
Category :- News Author :- Solomon Ateh 
Posted on July 22, 2018, 5:30 am

 

The crisis rocking the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon has left thousands displaced both internally and outside of the country. Thousands have fled the conflict-hit zones to neighboring Nigeria. Internally, so many of them have sought refuge in the bushes where they are exposed to risks of wild animals and inclement nature. A worsening humanitarian condition is unfolding. As the rains intensify, even the emergency plan set up by the government may not salvage the situation as the government is still running around trying to raise funds from the public to kickstart it. Some political commentators have termed it a window dressing meant to dissuade attention from the actual problem.

People Fleeing Violence

While the hinterlands are the most hit, localities with a more urban setup experience a relative calm that can at least take in some of the victims fleeing from battles between government forces and armed civilians fighting for the independence of the former Southern Cameroons state.  The recent report from the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees states figures ranging from 40.000 and more refugees in Nigeria and more than 180.000 internally displaced, though these figures are highly contradicted by those coming from credible sources on the ground. These sources put the figure at around 50.000 refugees and 300.000 internally displaced. These reports and many others are limited to generalized statistics, leaving out the most important stage which is the profiling of the refugees and IDPs in order to diagnose their conditions so as to better assist them.

It is with this understanding that some local Civil Society Organizations within the Buea Municipality took it upon themselves to match the word with action and profile over 221 IDPs within the BUEA municipality. Such rapid survey aims at enabling concerned stakeholders in reaching a common and comprehensive understanding of the IDPs within Buea for protection and assistance. It aims to improve the knowledge on the extent and pattern of the displaced persons and their exposure to protection risk. It will also help to contribute to the designing of programs in order to better meet basic needs and address the underlying protection problems for the development of durable solutions. The survey targeted randomly selected IDPs from within a relatively well-defined area settlement, carried out in conjunction with the provision of certain services to IDPs at an individual level. It revealed that most of them were females and living under disturbing health conditions

 Cross-examination results from the survey indicated that about 40% of them were married and about 75% of these married people left without their marital partners. Although not primarily focused on livelihood, the worsening health conditions of many can be attached to a fall in their livelihood. In a total of 214 randomly sampled, 168 persons [78.5%] had no health challenges before displacement; meanwhile, 46 persons were suffering from health challenges before being displaced. As revealed by NADEV, one of the organizations involved, out of a total number of 215 who responded to questionnaires, those with health challenges increased drastically from 46 to 76 IDPs. It was, therefore, crystal clear that such a displacement was putting humanity on serious health conditions, therefore, the number of persons who were healthy before displacement dropped from 168 to 138 persons according to the report.

 It also reveals that 3 pregnant women have lost their identification documents and cannot follow antenatally. Five family members who witnessed the brutal assassination of their loved ones were traumatized, one of them has seven months pregnant and hasn’t started antenatal due to financial constraints, adding up to the more than 13 women and girls that also suffered trauma due to GBV against them during the crisis. 26 IDPs have become an overburden to their hosts and undergoing threats of eviction.  3 families do not know the whereabouts of some members of their families displaced.  More than 165 IDPs revealed that some of their closest relatives were unable to reach safer areas due to fear of soldiers and police brutality, no identification documents, finance and etc.

Present during the workshop was an IDP who herself took part in the survey in a bit to salvage the situation of those who found themselves in the unfortunate situation like her. She is a member of Dynamic Women of Vision, one of the organizations involved in the survey. ‘’I left Mundemba on the 14th of May to visit my family in Muyenge, When I reached there, I met nobody, all houses burnt down, in fact, somebody just told me that everybody was in the forest. So, I was stranded there and decided to come to Buea to meet my sister. So, I stayed here in Buea and later wanted to go back to Mundemaba, but unfortunately, I heard a phone call from Mundemba that I should not come back to the village where I was staying that our house there has been burnt down and all my things are burnt. So I now live with her and she takes care of me’. Despite her situation, she still can manage to go out and profile those found in her same situation, as she explains, she will want to offer relief in any small way possible

Crosssection of participants

The survey was carried out amidst heavy shooting between forces loyal to the Cameroon government and pro-independence fighters in the localities of Muea, Mile 18, Mile 17 and Mile 16. Carried out by NADEV, The Mentors’ Foundation, The Foundation for Inclusive Education and the Dynamic Women of Vision, an association of women working within the South West Region. Such risk did not deter those who took the initiative but however think safety measures will need to be put in place as they intend going further of the Buea Municipality.

Mr. Nkemju Rosevelt, coordinator of the Initiative said that: ‘’I think what we are doing is very, very risky because first of all, there is no safe way for civil society organizations, we don’t have protection even from the government, and I can say we don’t have protection even from the restoration forces. Why I put this is because, just imagine if I go to Muyenge for instance, to get into the forest and collect information from the people hiding in the bushes I cannot guarantee that the military cannot misinterpret and shot me for supporting the Amba forces and vice versa, so with this dilemma, it becomes so difficult to safely get information. Even here in town when we were sampling the IDPs, we faced difficulties answering questions from people who thought we were collecting their information to go and give to some quarters, so it becomes very difficult. But I think as a civil society when confronted by this situation, we cannot fold our arms. We may just keep up pushing and defining ourselves to various parties that we are neutral, and our concern is finding the welfare of the people who are victims of the circumstances, independent of who they are and that need assistance.” Mr. Nkemju Rosevelt also revealed that his intention sending the document to the public is for people to be able to take the document and see first-class information generated from the field so as to get a clear picture of what the people need.

By Solomon Ateh

 

 

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