Act now or face disaster in Cameroon, aid chief warns
London (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A separatist conflict in Cameroon that has forced half a million people from their homes is in danger of worsening, the head of a major aid agency has warned, condemning what he called the “international silence” over the crisis.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), said the world had underestimated the impact on civilians of the violence that has gripped Cameroon, where entire villages had been burned to the ground.
“I’ve been all over the world, dealing with humanitarian work for many years and I was really shocked by the unbelievable extent of this emergency that is underestimated, underreported and neglected by the international community,” said Egeland.
“There are atrocities every single day against civilians … and the world doesn’t seem to know or want to know about it,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone during a visit to Cameroon.
Long-running tensions in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon erupted into conflict in late 2016, prompting crackdowns by security forces and leaving 1.3 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations.
Egeland said the violence had pushed tens of thousands into hiding in the bush without access to food or medical help, and meant nearly a million children could no longer go to school.
But he said there was a danger the situation could worsen.