Violence triggers massive displacement in Cameroon

By Rodrigue Forku

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AA) – Violence has triggered massive and under-reported displacement in Cameroon, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

In a statement Monday, the IDMC said that historically, most displacement has occurred in the Far North Region, the poorest region of the country and the one that suffers the most from the insurgency by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

In 2020, however, seven in 10 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Cameroon were forced to flee because of violence in the country's Northwest and Southwest English-speaking regions.

"Since 2017, UN agencies have been warning of a tragedy in the making in the Northwest and Southwest regions," said IDMC director Alexandra Bilak.

"Reports of thousands of new displacements since the beginning of the year and school attacks that have left children dead show that this is now a reality."

The Central African country has been marred by protests and violence since late 2016, with residents in English-speaking regions saying they have been marginalized for decades by the central government and the French-speaking majority.

They are calling for independence or a return to a federal state.

Violence in the Anglophone regions has claimed an estimated 3,000 lives and caused the displacement of over 730,000 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.

Last year, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said that for a second year running, Cameroon topped the list as the most neglected crisis on the planet in 2019.

“Many IDPs look for a safe haven in Cameroon's largest cities. But there they face a new set of challenges in accessing services and employment and often end up displaced again as a result of disasters,” said Bilak.

In August 2020, the worst coastal flooding in decades rendered nearly 5,000 people homeless in Douala, Cameroon's economic capital.

The IDMC said that last year, floods also swept through the semi-arid Far North Region, where they forced people already displaced from conflict areas to move again.