By: Boris Esono Nwenfor
Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait and Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), have both called for an end to the continuous attacks on schools in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
The two English-speaking regions of the country have been facing a bloody war since 2016 that has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced many. The ongoing conflict has internally displaced over 1 million people and according to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) report on Cameroon of 5 October 2021, over 2.2 million people are requiring humanitarian assistance and over 66,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
According to the latest report by the United Nations Humanitarian arm, UNOCHA, over 700,000 children have been impacted by school closures due to the ongoing crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. Meantime, two out of three schools in the North West and South West Regions are closed.
“This is among the most complex humanitarian crisis in the world today. Children and youth are having to flee their homes and schoolchildren are threatened with violence and kidnapping, and being forced into early childhood marriage and recruited into armed groups,” Yasmin Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait (United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis) said.
“We call for urgent support from donors to respond to this forgotten crisis. We call for the respect of human rights and adherence to the principles of international humanitarian law and the Safe School Declaration, and for partners to redouble efforts so all children and adolescents can get back to the safety, protection and hope that quality learning environments provide.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council added that during the recent lockdown imposed by the non-state armed groups from September 15 to October 2, access to basic services such as health and education were limited. “Schools and community learning spaces were closed, except for some schools in urban areas which operated at less than 60 per cent capacity. About 200,000 people did not receive foo due to the interruption of humanitarian activities,” UNOCHA stated.
“The lockdown and insecurity have forced UN agencies and aid organizations – including the Norwegian Refugee Council – to temporarily suspend the delivery of life-saving aid to people in need in both the North-West and South-West regions.”
About the Norwegian Refugee Council:
The Norwegian Refugee Council is an international humanitarian organization helping people forced to flee. We work in new and protracted crises across 35 countries. We have been working in Cameroon since 2017. We assisted over 340,000 people in 2020, including with education, food, shelter and legal aid.
About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increases the speed of responses in crises and connects immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming.