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The number of displaced people in Cameroon surged in 2018, as fighting broke out between the military and armed separatist groups in the west.
While insecurity and violence in the Far North and Nigeria continued to push thousands of Nigerian refugees and local communities south, sociopolitical tensions in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions escalated into armed conflict that had displaced over 435,000 people by the end of the year. Most fled to the bush, where they lack shelter, food, water, and basic health services.
Emergency assistance in Northwest and Southwest regions
In June, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened temporary mobile clinics in Kumba town, Southwest region, to provide primary health care consultations for the displaced. Our teams conducted 366 outpatient consultations in the first week alone, mainly for malaria, respiratory tract infections, and diarrhea.
We then extended our activities into Buea, also in Southwest region, and Bamenda, Northwest region, remote areas where large numbers of people were caught up in fighting. Supporting seven facilities across the two regions, our teams treated patients with medical emergencies, focusing on pregnant women and children under five; put mass casualty plans in place; and trained staff to deal with large influxes of wounded patients. We set up ambulance referral services, supported community health workers, donated medical supplies, and provided psychosocial support.
Displaced people and refugees in Far North region
Our teams in the north continued to offer medical care, including surgery and psychological support, to displaced people, Nigerian refugees and host communities. We also conducted pediatric activities.
Our teams in Maroua hospital performed 3,249 major surgical interventions and 2,098 psychological consultations in 2018, while the teams in Mora expanded activities closer to the border with Nigeria. This included supplying water to the displaced people’s camp in Kolofata and reactivating primary health care services in Amchidé.
Although there was a lull in armed violence along the border for most of 2018, a rise in attacks and clashes towards the end of the year increased the likelihood of fresh waves of displacement.
In Kousséri, on the border with Chad, we were able to hand over activities to the Ministry of Health, thanks to the improved security situation, increased capacity of local health care services and the presence of other NGOs. Between 2015 and October 2018, we provided nutritional and pediatric care at the hospital, and supported three health centers with outpatient consultations.
Cholera broke out in northern Cameroon in 2018, with a total of 995 suspected cases and 58 deaths between the end of June and the end of November. We supported the Ministry of Health’s response with donations of medicine and logistical equipment, built a cholera treatment center in Fotokol, and helped to refurbish existing centers in Djoungolo and at Garoua regional hospital. Our teams provided training on hygiene and sanitation measures and community health promotion and helped vaccinate 104,772 people in Makary health district to prevent the outbreak from spreading further north.