The Coordinator of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNOCHA in Cameroon Mr. Matthias Z. Naab, has condemned the attack perpetrated by a non-state armed group against a United Nations convoy in Ikata village, in the South-West region of Cameroon.
Two vehicles with seven staff members on board were reportedly attacked on March 26, 2021 while conducting a monitoring mission to Munyenge village in the South-West region.
“Shortly after entering Ikata village, a group of armed men opened fire on the convoy with automatic weapons. The attack did not lead to any loss of life nor injuries among the mission participants, but the two vehicles were seriously damaged” a statement of the UNOCHA office on March 3, reads.
There has been an upsurge in attacks on humanitarian workers in the North West and south west regions of Cameroon since the beginning of the crisis in two regions but the attack on the UN convoy is understandably the first of its kind. Several humanitarian workers have however been threatened, abducted, injured, and killed.
“The general insecurity, especially attacks on civilians, aid workers, and essential social service providers, increases the population’s suffering and undermines humanitarian actors’ capacity to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance timely” the statement from the UNOCHA office adds.
The Humanitarian Coordinator has called on all parties to the crisis to abide by their obligations under international human rights law and to refrain from any attacks against humanitarian organizations, educational and health care facilities and their personnel and assets and for perpetrators of these attacks to be held accountable.
“Safe, timely, and unhindered access of humanitarian organizations to deliver life-saving aid to the affected population needs to be guaranteed,” said Mr. Naab while reiterating the humanitarian community’s commitment to continue to support crisis affected populations in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s Anglophone regions face a serious humanitarian crisis, with over 650,000 internally displaced, and 1.8 millionrelying on humanitarian aid including 1.4 million people who lack reliable access to food.
Growing physical and online threats and attacks on humanitarian workers, local volunteers paying the bigger price
Hate speech, cyber bullying, death threats and even outright murder has threatened operations of the aid community and hindered provision of aid to those in the two regions.
Increasing targeted attacks against aid workers and their operations, and a range of obstacles and conditions created by the Cameroon government and non- state actors, is prompting concerns among the humanitarian community in the two regions for the well-being and safety of their local staff and colleagues in the field.
The government is accusing some NGOs and their staff for conniving with separatist non state armed groups ad non state armed groups are faulting some NGOs for working with the government.
Although all humanitarian workers are targeted by the attacks and threats, the local humanitarian volunteers, analysts say are more affected as they unfortunately are the ones that face the reality in the field.
Development experts are unanimous that the security challenges faced by local aid volunteers need to be urgently addressed. Issues such as security awareness, capacity to protect personnel, and funding must be resolved. In particular, the protection of local aid workers needs to be dealt with as a matter of topmost priority.