GivHOPE Helps Improve Living Conditions of IDPs and Host Communities
The Northwest and Southwest civil war has left 1,850 dead, more than 437,000 are currently internally displaced and tens of thousands of refugees, mostly women and children with 35,000 refugees in Nigeria, (UN Briefing, dated March 27, 2019). UN estimates per region: 246,000 of them in the Southwest Region, 105,000 in the Northwest Region, and 86,000 in the Littoral and West Regions.
The Northwest and Southwest crisis has turned into civil war in Cameroon and has reached its peak in recent months. War, violence and crime on both sides push displacement to incalculable high, especially during the period of classes’ resumption. Resettlement of these persons in other cities of Cameroon is uncertain and needs resources and good wills to jump in, the government being overwhelmed with pressure. Jointly with our partners, we worked last year with many Partners in different localities of Cameroon on the resettlement of conditions of internally displaced people (IDPs). Our objective had 5 big pillars some of which were implemented and achieved successfully last year: (1) Capacity building, empowerment and income generating activities for the parents; (2) Apprenticeship, vocational training or formal education for the children; (3) Job placement for those with skills in the private sector or self-employment; (4) Advocacy and consciousness campaigns awareness on living together; and (5) Project implementation, supervision, evaluation and monitoring.
In 2019 we spent more than 2,000,000.00 francs CFA (4,000.00US$ equivalent) on 507 refugees for food, shelter, education, vocational training, health, income generating activities, capacity build and empowerment, feminine hygiene, placement and clothing. For example, Godwill, a father of 11, Patu, single mom of 8, Seraphine, Zephaniah, and Bernadette are some of the internally displaced persons from Batibo, Kombo, Bamenda and Nini villages in the Northwest Region of Cameroon we cared for. They escaped from the Anglophone war after several months in the bushes and ended up in neighboring French speaking cities (Yaoundé, Loum, Meidougou, Douala).
“My restaurant was burned to ashes and I ran away, spending many months in the bushes before my sister sent me transport money to come to Yaoundé. Once I got here I started another restaurant business and one day, I was going to the market on a motorcycle that ran through a car accident. The vehicle hit the motorcycle who felt down with me and the vehicle ran on my leg. Both the driver and the motorcycle rider ran away and the police took me to the hospital where my leg was amputated. Now I am on crushes and have lost all my assets”, said Bernadette.
Bernadette’s story is not the only troubling story we keep hearing. Many IPDs face the same challenges such as isolation from markets, labor market discrimination, difficulty accessing formal labor markets due to legal or language barriers such as documentation requirements (Birth certificates, ID cards, school report cards, etc.) and French vs. English language and the loss of social networks and support mechanisms.
Other major challenges IPDs face almost daily are the experience of lower incomes when they have the opportunity to find a job. A lady told us that she works for 30.000 FCFA per month which is less than the Cameroon minimum wage and most of that money is spent on taxi to/from her job side. There’s nothing she can do to improve her living conditions because with this salary, she pays rent, provides food, clothing, health and everything for her family. They also face other complications such as health, education, security, housing, labor conditions, and social wellbeing that make it very difficult for IDPs to feel at home, separated from their lands, natural milieus, families and communities, especially children, women and girls. Godswill, wife and 7 children live in a tiny room that even a single bed can’t enter. They are obliged to bend the 15 cm meters thick mattress into two to sleep and the rest of the household goes on the floor. “We need everything; all that can help me support my family’s needs. When I look at my children who are not yet registered in school, I feel uncomfortable and hopeless because I don’t know what to do. I have no job, no capital to go into business such as selling palm oil, learning how to drive or farming. I just want to keep busy but here in Yaoundé, what can I do, there’s no room?” Godswill stated.
Our challenges now remain on how to get the host communities involve and where to find the resources, especially money to sustain the results so far acquired and implement this year plan of actions that has already registered 714 women, 378 men and 1815 children, for a total of 2907 IDPs with more than 138 women and 751 children on the waiting list.
GivHOPE objective is to make sure this people see their living conditions change for the better by an easy access to at least the basic needs (Health, education, housing, security, vital resources and social wellbeing). To fulfill our overall objective, money is not the unique issue for people who have nothing but also include acceptable shelter, drinking water, good health, fight against violence/abuses, getting the right education and supply of clothing are equally cause of concerns.
Please help us achieve our ultimate objective by putting a smile on these IDPs’ faces. Visit our website at www.givhopeafrica.org and hit “Donate now” button or benevity.org at https://causes.benevity.org/node/274459/edit/120-5727516196320_a018 and proceed.