ACT Alliance Alert: Life-saving relief to CAR refugees in Cameroon

by Elisabeth Gouel | | ACT Alliance - Switzerland
Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:20 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Life-saving relief to CAR refugees in Cameroon

Geneva, 24 July 2014

1.    Brief description of the emergency and impact

Due to the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), there are massive flows of IDPs inside CAR and refugees in neighbouring countries. According to a recent assessment carried out by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in July 6-17, 2014, the situation in Cameroon has gotten worse. Outflow of mostly Muslim refugees continues from CAR into Cameroon, many severely weakened. Majority of the refugees are in Cameroon. There have been 118,176  new arrivals in the last six months and it is expected that this number will rise to 200,000 by December 2014 .

Over 60 per cent of the refugees are women and children, with a high number of unaccompanied minors. Out of this total, 37 % are installed in 6 sites with limited assistance. 63 % of the refugees decided to join earlier refugees in 308 host villages and/or to continue living in the transit points close to the border with CAR or in the urban area without any protection or assistance.

The new refugee arrivals show signs of the brutal violence they have escaped in CAR. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also reports on serious malnutrition.  Refugees have walked for weeks through the forests with little to eat or drink. In April and May, as many as 40 % of all the new refugees, children as well as adults, were suffering from malnutrition which justified high death rate in the past weeks.

2.    Why is an ACT response needed?

More refugee sites need to be established to ensure the safety of refugees, while the government has advised refugees not to settle near the border for security reasons. Serious gaps in assistance remain in a number of sectors. The LWF assessment calls for interventions in shelter, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) protection and psychosocial support to children, women and girls, social cohesion and support to both refugees and hosting communities with empowerment and self-reliance activities.

3.    National and international response

Given the worsening of the situation in Cameroon, the UNHCR is in urgent need of partners who are able to deploy as fast as possible in the field.  By the time of our assessment, there was no partner responsible for protection and assistance in the 308 villages who are hosting early and new refugees.

UN agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF and UNFPA) intervene within their respective mandates. In partnership with UNHCR, MSF- France, PU-AMI (Première Urgence Aide Médicale Internationale), PLAN International and CARE International, AHA (African Humanitarian Action), IDR and AIDER national and international NGOs are implementing  some activities in the newly set up sites of Borgop, Ngam, Lolo, Mbile, Timangolo and Gado. Those NGOs had mostly worked in development projects in the past years in Cameroon and they are not familiar with refugee site settings with the current CAR crisis.

4.    ACT Alliance response

During the CAR crisis, various parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon nationwide have organized and mobilized resources in Non-Food Items (NFIs), mainly clothing, cash and church hospitals to assist refugees.  Church structures are hosting refugees without any religious discrimination.  
The LWF is already working with IDPs inside CAR and CAR refugees in Chad. The LWF Geneva devoted an assessment mission to Cameroon in July 6-17 2014 to assess the situation and met with the UNHCR, church leaders and refugees.

ACT members based in Cameroon are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Eglise Fraternelle Lutherienne du Cameroun (EFLC). The LWF is planning to respond to the crisis in collaboration with the UNHCR and in consultation with the ACT members based in Cameroon.

5.    Planned activities

The LWF will support the overall UNHCR operations in Cameroon, providing life-saving relief to refugee sites in Cameroon bordering CAR in the following sectors: shelter, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) protection and psychosocial support to children, women and girls, social cohesion and support to both refugees and hosting communities with empowerment and self-reliance activities. The LWF is preparing a Preliminary Appeal which will be issued early August.

6.    Constraints

Humanitarian access in Cameroon is good, but may be affected by the onset of rains.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (

For further information please contact:
ACT Senior Programme Officer, Katherine Ireri (phone +41 22 791 6040 or mobile phone +41 79 433 0592)
ACT Head of Programmes, Sarah Kambarami (+41 22 791 62 11 or mobile phone +41 78 892 1178)

ACT Web Site address: