Conflict in Cameroon: Support for displaced people is urgently needed

Distribution of relief supplies by the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), partner church of Mission 21. Photo PCC.

The situation of displaced people in Cameroon is precarious. Lumumba Mukong, coordinator of Mission 21 in Cameroon, says: "They need water, food and medicine, but also psychosocial support." Since 2016, a conflict has escalated in Cameroon between the central government and the English-speaking Southwest and Northwest regions. Armed attacks have been the order of the day since then. Those who suffer are the civilian population, many of whom are forced to flee the violence.

Essential goods

Lumumba Mukong reports of a village where houses were set on fire and people burned. Those who could fled. "When people returned, they encountered devastation. There were no more sanitation facilities, no drinking water, no roof over their heads."

In this situation, Mission 21, in cooperation with the Ecumenical Relief and Rehabilitation Program (ERRP), supports the displaced people. With success: Within a year, more than 60,000 people were provided with essential goods, such as water, food and hygiene articles. In many cases, the support extended beyond initial emergency measures. 51 internally displaced people were able to take part in a training program to build up their professional independence.

People need more than water and food

Psychosocial support for the displaced is also central. Angelika Weber, program manager for Cameroon at Mission 21, says: "Many of the displaced people have experienced highly traumatic situations. Measures such as educational programs only bring these people something when they have been able to find a way to deal with the traumatic experiences." Centers to support traumatized people in Bamenda, Bafoussam and Kumba are therefore an important part of the work of Mission 21 and its local partners.

Cooperations with the local church and the UNO

Reaching all displaced people is not possible for any institution, says Lumumba Mukong. The Corona pandemic is making work on the ground more difficult and more expensive. This makes it all the more important to stay on the ball in cooperation with various partners. Mission 21 is working in Cameroon with its partner church PCC and with UNOCHA, the UN agency for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, among others.

Further support is urgently needed

Further support is urgently needed, and an end to the crisis is not yet in sight. Mission 21 anticipates a need of around 150,000 Swiss francs for emergency aid in the area of basic services (water, food, health care and shelter) for 2022, and a need of 110,000 Swiss francs in the area of reconstruction (education for displaced children and adults and psychosocial support).

Text: Miriam Glass, Mission 21

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