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Remarks at the launch of UNHCR Supplementary Appeal for Cameroonian Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees in Nigeria

Speeches and statements

Remarks at the launch of UNHCR Supplementary Appeal for Cameroonian Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees in Nigeria

26 March 2019
UNHCR Headquarters, Geneva.

Ladies and gentlemen.

There is no doubt that the Lake Chad Basin, Sahel, DRC or South Sudan humanitarian crises and, particularly now, the Cyclone which struck Southern Africa some days ago, command far more attention than the one that has brought us together here today. So, I would like to thank you very much for your presence for this appeal we are launching for the over 437,000 Cameroonians who have been displaced internally by the situation in the North West and South West of the country and the 35,000 now in Nigeria as refugees.

In all, we are appealing for $35 M in new requirements ($27.3 M for Nigeria and $8 M for Cameroon) while reiterating already established overall requirements totaling $148M ($82 M for Cameroon and $66M for Nigeria). My colleague the Director of the Africa Bureau will shortly overview the details of these requirements that I trust you will have gleaned already from the appeal itself. And I am delighted that OCHA and WFP are also here with us and will highlight for your attention the requirements from their perspectives. Before we hear from them, allow me some over-arching points.

First of all, for both the internal and external sides covered by our appeal, the protection and humanitarian imperatives are acute. People have faced or are continuing to experience unspeakable violence and brutality, destruction of housing and property, sexual violence and exploitation, other horrible abuses, disappearances, separation of families and compelling food and nutrition, shelter, health and other conditions. The needs are vitally to save lives and for core and they are critical. Our appeal today thus has a very strong sense of urgency. We call on you please to respond in as timely, ample and flexible a manner as possible.

Our appeal today is focused, as concerns Cameroon, on Cameroonians displaced within their own country. At the same time, we highlight that Cameroon has long-term been and remains a refugee hosting country. There are 380,000 refugees, mainly from the Central African Republic and Nigeria, receiving protection and assistance in the country today. And even as we speak, it continues to receive Nigerian refugees fleeing from the Boko Haram insurgency. To support and sustain protection and assistance for the refugees and boost the important steps which are being taken for their social inclusion, UNHCR needs some $73 Million for the current operational year. We ask that this dimension of the situation is not forgotten and call for contributions likewise to be made in a timely and adequate manner.

Thirdly, please note that the requirements in the appeal relating to Cameroon form part of and, adjusted accordingly for new developments and needs, are fully aligned with the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon elaborated under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator. Even as we are today drawing your attention to and seeking your support for UNHCR's requirements, I would like to underline that we fully support, and call for your positive response to, the Humanitarian Response requirements which, as our colleague from OCHA will highlight, are among the most poorly funded of the humanitarian appeals globally at the present moment. As we see it, support provided to every individual requirement of the Plan is support for all.

Coming now to the part of the appeal covering Nigeria, the 35,000 refugees the subject of that component have been generated from the same crisis forming the basis of its component for Cameroon. Nigeria too is covered by a Humanitarian Response Plan elaborated under the auspices of the Humanitarian Coordinator; however the Cameroon refugee situation is not covered in it because of a decision that was made to dedicate it to the internal humanitarian situation. I however would like to underscore that the same collaboration and partnership that underpin the response in Cameroon for the internally displaced persons underlies our response for the refugees in Nigeria and the host communities among whom they have settled and who are also covered by our appeal. I am grateful to, and would like to express UNHCR's appreciation to all the partners, including those who are present here today, with whom we are working side by side in what is a very difficult and complicated response. Without detracting from that undivided gratitude, allow me to single out the World Food Programme (WFP) with whom we are forging ahead together in one of the most strategically-creative collaborations we have anywhere in the world in tackling, as I have said, a complex operational situation.

Finally, in conclusion, let me reiterate UNHCR's commitment to deliver as formidable a response as possible with the support that we are seeking from you. But as effective as any humanitarian response could ever be, it cannot substitute for the decisive and sustainable resolution of the root causes of the situation so that no other Cameroonians are uprooted and those who are in exile or internally displaced can return home safely, confidently and sustainably. I can do no better than recall the call that the Secretary General of the United Nations himself made over a year ago to, and I quote now: “political leaders on both sides to appeal to their followers to refrain from any further acts of violence, and to unequivocally condemn all actions that undermine the peace, stability and unity of the country and to “promote measures of national reconciliation aimed at finding a durable solution to the crisis, including by addressing its root causes.”

I thank you very much for your attention.