As well as an eventful history and a diverse landscape, Cameroon has an unusual linguistic geography. This country is located on the borderline between the English-speaking region of West Africa and the French-speaking region of Central Africa. This position is mirrored in a rich cultural heritage that is shaped by many different influences.
For some time now, various factors in Cameroon have led to increasing instability in the country: Since 2016, a conflict has escalated in Cameroon's southwest, resulting from the political oppression of the English-speaking (Anglophone) minority. So far, the crisis has claimed over 2000 lives and driven more than 700'000 people into flight. In addition, the Islamic terrorist militia Boko Haram is carrying out attacks in the north and in the east displaced persons from the civil war are seeking protection in the Central African Republic. The elections in October 2018 led to another mandate for long-term president Paul Biya, despite considerable doubts about the election results; the opposition leader was arrested a few months later. Meanwhile he was released again, but the balance of power has not changed.
Emergency relief and rehabilitation in the conflict area
Through projects focusing on education, healthcare and livelihood security, Mission 21 provides particular support for the population in the south-western region of Cameroon, where English is spoken.
To provide immediate relief in the context of the Anglophone crisis, Mission 21 launched a programme for emergency relief and rehabilitation in 2018. In addition to the regular projects, we provide emergency relief and rehabilitation in the Anglophone regions, together with two churches and several non-governmental organizations.
Cameroon's churches harbour great potential for containing the conflict and providing support to people in distress because they are firmly established and accepted among the population. Mission 21's emergency relief and rehabilitation project is utilising this potential to set up and develop a comprehensive and sustainable humanitarian aid programme, in cooperation with international organisations as the UN-OCHA.
A wide range of courses, training activities and workshops impart knowledge about innovative methods of sustainable cultivation and about computer skills. With the skills and knowledge they acquire, participants can sustainably increase their family income and reduce their financial dependency. The project activities are currently severely affected by the conflict in the English-speaking part of Cameroon, but activities have not been stopped.
Mission 21 is convinced that a sound education in theology can help to overcome social tensions of various kinds. The focus is on ecumenical openness with the inclusion of local traditions. The educational projects help to ensure peaceful discussion of differing values within the country. Participants critically examine social issues and questions of faith, and they can play an active part in resolving problems.
Cameroon's government healthcare structures are poorly developed. For this reason, the projects undertaken by Mission 21 and its partners focus on basic medical care in rural areas and refugee camps. Other key aspects include support for people living with the HIV virus and general educational campaigns on HIV and AIDS.
Reliable partners with local roots play a crucial part in the successful and professional preparation and implementation of the projects. In the case of Cameroon, the local partners are the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), a longstanding partner of Mission 21, as well as the Protestant University of Central Africa (PUCA) and Aid International - Christian Women of Vision (AI-ChrisWOV). Mission 21 also works with the Baptist Church, various local NGOS and UN-OCHA (Office of the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) for the "Emergency Relief and Reconstruction in Cameroon" programme.
Ongoing dialogue and collaboration with the partner organisations ensure that the projects meet the needs of the people on the ground. Mission 21's coordinator, Lumumba Mukong, provides support for the projects in Cameroon. After studying agricultural economics in the UK, he went on to gain work experience in several NGOs in Cameroon.
Collaboration between Mission 21 and its partner organisations aims to enable people in Cameroon to lead their lives in dignity and to provide concrete help, especially in the tense situation. Since the outbreak of the unrest, internally displaced persons have also been included in the project-activities.