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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Cameroon

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Cameroon country operations map

  • Cameroon maintains an open-border policy for asylum-seekers and is signatory to all major legal instruments on refugees, including the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention. Moreover, Cameroon adopted a law defining the legal framework for refugee protection in July 2005, which went into force in November 2011.

  • Continued regional instability means Cameroon has been receiving refugees and asylum-seekers from neighbouring countries, mainly from the Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria. As of August 2014, Cameroon was hosting more than 240,000 people of concern to UNHCR.

  • Cameroon hosts the largest number of Central African refugees. Most are spread over at least 314 sites and villages across the East and Adamaoua regions. The extensive CAR border presents a challenge for humanitarian actors on the ground, with more than 30 entry points and an operational area of 50,000 square kilometres. This is further aggravated by poor road conditions, making access difficult.

  • Due to the crisis in Nigeria, Cameroon has witnessed an influx of Nigerian refugees since May 2013. The volatile security situation at the border, including continued incursions by armed groups from Nigeria into Cameroon, poses serious risk of targeted violence, robbery or kidnapping.

  • The Government provides protection and asylum for people of concern and has allocated land for seven refugee sites in the East and Adamaoua regions, as well as Minawao refugee camp in the Far North region. It also provides armed escorts for refugees and humanitarian actors in operational areas and facilitates access to local schools and health centres for refugees, with UNHCR support.

People of concern

In 2015, people of concern in Cameroon will include: new refugees from the CAR, who since December 2013 have been fleeing in large numbers following waves of violence and political instability; CAR refugees who fled the north-west region of the CAR between 2006-2010 due to high levels of banditry and other criminal acts and are currently residing in 308 villages throughout the East and Adamaoua regions; and Nigerian refugees fleeing fighting between insurgents and government forces. Before the latest influx of Nigerian refugees, Cameroon hosted more than 3,000 Nigerian refugees who had left their country due to inter-ethnic conflicts and since 2003 have settled in the Adamaoua, south-west and Northwest regions, as well as urban refugees and asylum-seekers from 35 countries, including the CAR, Chad, the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Cameroon
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total 231,610 223,460 277,110 268,020
Refugees Central African Rep. 198,890 198,890 233,890 233,890
Chad 1,800 1,800 1,900 1,900
Nigeria 14,960 6,810 19,960 10,870
Various 2,110 2,110 2,260 2,260
Asylum-seekers Central African Rep. 10,900 10,900 15,900 15,900
Chad 880 880 1,000 1,000
Guinea 600 600 700 700
Various 1,470 1,470 1,500 1,500

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2015, UNHCR will provide protection and assistance to the different refugee groups.

The CAR refugees who arrived between 2006 and 2010 and are residing with host communities will be targeted using a local integration strategy that aims to restart livelihoods and build community capacity.

UNHCR will focus on the most immediate priorities of CAR refugees who have arrived since 2013 and reside in the refugee sites or host communities in the East and Adamaoua regions. Priorities include: ensuring physical protection from armed conflict; providing access to basic assistance; improving the health condition of refugee populations; ensuring access to education; and increasing or maintaining water supplies, particularly for refugees residing in host communities. Attention will be given to strengthening the prevention of, and response to, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in refugee sites and host communities. UNHCR and partners will accelerate efforts to develop income-generating and livelihood activities for refugees, to facilitate their integration in host communities. To reduce the risk of conflict stemming from control of natural resources, and to reinforce social cohesion, solutions to mitigate the impact of a mass influx of people will be developed and implemented. As refugees are hosted in some of the country's poorest areas, where basic infrastructure such as schools, health-care centres and water points are lacking, significant investment will be required.

UNHCR will also respond to the needs of the Nigerian refugees. New arrivals will continue to be hosted in Minawao refugee camp, where existing infrastructure will be extended. If required, additional camp sites will be identified and developed, in collaboration with local authorities. Local integration of Nigerian refugees is not envisaged for 2015.

In an effort to reduce statelessness, UNHCR will continue to advocate issuing birth certificates, to support civil registration centres and to sensitize parents regarding the importance of birth registration.

| Implementation |


The Regional Refugee Coordinator for the CAR situation will coordinate and oversee UNHCR's response in the four countries of asylum, including Cameroon. UNHCR will continue facilitating strategic planning, with governmental counterparts, other UN agencies, NGOs, donors, civil society partners, or other stakeholders.

Inter-agency working groups have been established at country level to focus on protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, and health. UNHCR experts will provide technical leadership, identify gaps in assistance and implement solutions to enable a comprehensive humanitarian response.

2015 UNHCR partners in Cameroon
Implementing partners
NGOs: Action contre la Faim, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Africa Humanitarian Action, AIDER, Association de Lutte contre les Violences faites aux Femmes, CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Croix-Rouge française, FAIRMED, International Emergency and Development Aid, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, Plan - Cameroon, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale (PU-AMI), Public Concern, Solidarités International
Others: IFRC
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Basic Education, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Ministry of External Relations, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Ministry of Water Resources and Energy, Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family

| Financial information |

The Cameroon budget decreased between 2011 and 2013 as UNHCR focused on local integration, with a view to scaling down its presence. However, two major unforeseen events led the Office to review this: the influxes of new CAR refugees and Nigerian refugees. A higher budget was required to address these new needs, not only to provide adequate emergency response, but also to develop and implement post-emergency plans from 2015.

Supplementary appeals were therefore launched in 2014. The current budget for 2015 has been set at USD 54.8 million, but may need to be reviewed during the year.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

UNHCR Representation in Cameroon
Style of Address UNHCR Representative in Cameroon
Street Address Quartier Omnisport, Rue du Stade N°1370, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Mailing Address PO Box 7077, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telephone 237 222 029 54
Facsimile 237 222 105 44
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:8:30 - 17:30
Tuesday:8:30 - 17:30
Wednesday:8:30 - 17:30
Thursday:8:30 - 17:30
Friday:8:30 - 14:30
Public Holidays 01 January 2016, New year
11 February 2016, Fete de la jeunesse
28 March 2016, Lundi de paques
02 May 2016, Fete du travail
05 May 2016, ascension
20 May 2016, fete nationale
06 July 2016, eid al fitr
07 July 2016, eid al fitr
15 August 2016, assomption
12 September 2016, fete de la tabaski
The UNHCR Sub-Office at Bertoua
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Sub-Office at Bertoua
Street Address Kolbikon, Bertoua, Cameroon
Mailing Address PO Box 7077, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telephone 41 22 739 7671
Time Zone GMT + 1
Working Hours
Monday:08:30 - 17:30
Tuesday:08:30 - 17:30
Wednesday:08:30 - 17:30
Thursday:08:30 - 17:30
Friday:08:30 - 14:30
Public Holidays 01 January 2016, New year
11 February 2016, Fete de la jeunesse
28 March 2016, Lundi de paques
02 May 2016, Fete du travail
05 May 2016, ascension
20 May 2016, fete nationale
06 July 2016, eid al fitr
07 July 2016, eid al fitr
15 August 2016, assomption
12 September 2016, fete de la tabaski


Statistical Snapshot*
* As at June 2015
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending as at 30 June 2015 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Cameroon [1]
Refugees [2] 302,293
Asylum Seekers [3] 7,835
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 81,693
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 391,821
Originating from Cameroon [1]
Refugees [2] 10,854
Asylum Seekers [3] 6,116
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 81,693
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 4
Total Population of Concern 98,667
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2006
2014 0
2013 840
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0

Cameroon UNHCR Fundraising Reports Rss FeedUNHCR Fundraising Reports

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Cameroon UNHCR Maps Rss FeedUNHCR Maps

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Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Each week 10,000 Muslims cross into eastern Cameroon to escape the violence consuming the Central African Republic (CAR). Many new arrivals report that they have been repeatedly attacked as they fled. The anti-Balaka militiamen have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing people to find alternate routes through the bush. Many are walking two to three months to reach Cameroon, arriving malnourished and bearing wounds from machetes and gunshots.

UNHCR and its partners have established additional mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. The UN refugee agency is also supporting public health centres that have been overwhelmed by the number of refugees and their condition.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees who had been living in the open in the Garoua Bouai and Kenzou border areas, bringing them to new sites at Lolo, Mborguene, Gado and Borgop in the East and Adamwa regions.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received nearly 70,000 refugees from CAR, adding to the 92,000 who fled in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

UNHCR staff members Paul Spiegel and Michele Poletto recently travelled to eastern Cameroon and have the following photos to share from their iPhone and camera.

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Young and Struggling with Malnutrition: Child Refugees in Cameroon

Growing numbers of refugees from the Central African Republic have been arriving in Cameroon in a dreadful physical condition after spending weeks or months hiding in the bush, struggling to find food and water, and sleeping out in the open, unable to return to the homes they were forced to flee from. The most vulnerable of these refugees are the children, especially those aged under five years. It is heart-breaking to see these rail thin children, clearly in need of sustenance after living on roots and leaves. An estimated 40 per cent of children arrive suffering from malnutrition and for some the journey proves too much, but UNHCR has been helping to save lives in eastern Cameroon. With Médecins Sans Frontières, the refugee agency supports a nutrition centre in Batouri. MSF sends children there from its overwhelmed health clinic in the border town of Gbiti, where some 20,000 of the 80,000 Central African refugees in Cameroon have arrived. The partners are expanding the capacity of the centre, which treats about 100 children. More arrive daily and UNHCR has set up tents to provide shelter for the children and their mothers. Photographer Frederic Noy last week visited Gbiti and Batouri and captured the following powerful images.

Young and Struggling with Malnutrition: Child Refugees in Cameroon

Silent Success

Despite being chased from their homes in the Central African Republic and losing their livelihoods, Mbororo refugees have survived by embracing a new way of life in neighbouring Cameroon.

The Mbororo, a tribe of nomadic cattle herders from Central African Republic, started fleeing their villages in waves in 2005, citing insecurity as well as relentless targeting by rebel groups and bandits who steal their cattle and kidnap women and children for ransom.

They arrived in the East and Adamaoua provinces of Cameroon with nothing. Though impoverished, the host community welcomed the new arrivals and shared their scant resources. Despite this generosity, many refugees died of starvation or untreated illness.

Help arrived in 2007, when UNHCR and partner agencies began registering refugees, distributing food, digging and rehabilitating wells as well as building and supplying medical clinics and schools, which benefit refugees and the local community and promote harmony between them. The Mbororo were eager to learn a new trade and set up farming cooperatives. Though success didn't come immediately, many now make a living from their crops.

Mbororo refugees continue to arrive in Central African Republic - an average of 50 per month. The long-term goal is to increase refugees' self-reliance and reduce their dependency on humanitarian aid.

Silent Success

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visited Cameroon in late March to put a spotlight on the situation there of tens of thousands of refugees from Nigeria. These people have escaped mounting violence by insurgents in the north-east of their country. Among the places that Guterres visited during his March 24-25 visit is the Minawao Refugee Camp, where many of the uprooted have been relocated.

Situated some 120 kilometres from the dangerous border area with Nigeria in Cameroon's Far North region, Minawao camp is currently home to 33,000 Nigerian refugees, mainly from Borno state. Many of the arrivals are traumatized and in need of material and psycho-social help. They told the High Commissioner of losing their homes and belongings as well as members of their families. Some were injured. In total, an estimated 74,000 Nigerians have found refuge in Cameroon while cross-border incursions from Nigeria have displaced 96,000 Cameroonians. UNHCR photographer Hélène Caux also visited Minawao to hear the individual stories.

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

Cameroon: Central African Republic Refugees Register to VotePlay video

Cameroon: Central African Republic Refugees Register to Vote

Salihu Hassan, 57, from the Central African Republic may be a refugee now but he still wants to have a say in elections planned for December 27.

Cameroon: Escape from NigeriaPlay video

Cameroon: Escape from Nigeria

Attacks by Nigerian insurgents have spread to neighbouring countries in recent months, severely restricting the 'humanitarian space' aid organisations, like UNHCR, can operate in to help people made homeless by the unrest. The insurgents have also recently mounted a series of suicide attacks in Cameroon - the first such attacks in the country.

Cameroon: A Story of SurvivalPlay video

Cameroon: A Story of Survival

In Minawao camp, Cameroon, the memories of immense suffering are still haunting Nigerian refugees, even young children like Ibrahim.

Cameroon: High Commissioner Meets Nigerian RefugeesPlay video

Cameroon: High Commissioner Meets Nigerian Refugees

In Minawao camp, Cameroon, Nigerian refugees get a chance to tell their stories to High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres during his visit.

Cameroon: A Young Victim of ViolencePlay video

Cameroon: A Young Victim of Violence

Militia attacks on civilians in Central African Republic have left many people, including children, dead or badly injured. Six-year-old Ibrahim is recovering from one such attack, lucky to be alive.

Cameroon:  Malnourished ChildrenPlay video

Cameroon: Malnourished Children

Some 80,000 people from Central African Republic have fled to Cameroon this year, many of them after walking for weeks or months through the bush with almost no food and water. Many of the children have severe malnutrition. UNHCR and its partners are rushing to help them.

The Mbororo: A way of life at riskPlay video

The Mbororo: A way of life at risk

Systematic attacks on settlements in Central African Republic have forced more than 60,000 people from the Mbororo tribe to flee to neighbouring Cameroon. UNHCR is trying to help these nomadic herdsmen restart their lives.
Cameroon: A Silent CrisisPlay video

Cameroon: A Silent Crisis

In Cameroon, more than 60,000 refugees have fled Central African Republic after systematic attacks by armed gangs. Despite the atrocities, this crisis has gone largely unnoticed by the international community - perhaps because it is overshadowed by the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. UNHCR is trying to address the enormous needs.