I am deeply concerned by the increased harassment, attacks, abductions and extortion humanitarian workers are facing in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. The situation has reached a point where aid delivery has had to be scaled back, putting many lives at unnecessary risk.
I am particularly troubled by the increasingly widespread practice by non-state armed groups of setting up illegal checkpoints along main supply routes and abducting aid workers. Over the past two months, we have seen a significant increase in attacks with six aid agencies reporting having had their workers kidnapped or illegally detained in life-threatening incidents.
The aggressive reinforcing of “ghost town” days, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in heavily frequented areas or the closure of inter-city transport for several days, have further constrained the ability of humanitarian organizations to operate, with dire consequences for the population they seek to support.
Cameroon security forces have also reportedly delayed the movement of humanitarian cargo and aid delivery trucks and detained protective equipment needed to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers.
Aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations can make the difference between life and death for entire communities in the North West and South West regions. I call on all actors on ground to protect civilians and aid workers, and ensure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable women, children and men, in respect of the principles of humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality which guide humanitarian action.
This recent increase of attacks is even more troubling as it comes at a time when our efforts are focused on the scale up required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, I reiterate the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire. It is the time to choose humanity and to enable all efforts aimed at bringing hope and support to those who continue to be affected by violence and insecurity and need urgent life-saving assistance.
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs