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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, the Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary-General Jan Egeland and Ms Esther Omam Njomo Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon and Father Paul Fru Njokikang, for their briefings today.
The EU is concerned about the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Cameroon.
Cameroon faces three major humanitarian crises, which affect eight out of the ten regions of the country. These crises have caused a widespread disruption of the economic activities and a massive displacement of population: the latest figures show that there are some 1.2 million people forcedly displaced in the country.
Eastern Cameroon suffers from a protracted refugee crisis since 2013: hosting a large population of refugees from the Central African Republic, in need not only of humanitarian assistance, but also of longer-term development aid, considering the protracted nature of their situation.
Another area of Cameroon, the Far North region, is affected by the Lake Chad crisis. As a result of violence in Northeast Nigeria, Cameroon has received an important influx of refugees from Nigeria and many Cameroonians have been forced to flee their places of origin and are internally displaced. All these displaced population are also in need of humanitarian aid.
Finally, the humanitarian crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions, which is rapidly deteriorating, is very worrisome. Tensions in these English-speaking regions have caused intense forced displacement in the last months. The situation is one of high instability and insecurity across both regions. Therefore, all actors concerned should use every effort to reduce the tensions and engage in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with a view to finding a lasting political solution to the crisis, as well as to ensure the protection of civilians.
In terms of humanitarian interventions, the environment is increasingly complex, the humanitarian space is very limited, with attacks against humanitarian workers, and it is extremely difficult for aid organisations to have access to the populations in need.
Therefore, the EU would like to raise attention on the need to provide a stronger regional and international response to the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
In addition to supporting efforts towards a peaceful solution to the crisis, improving access to the affected areas by humanitarian organisations is of paramount importance. We call on all parties to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need of humanitarian assistance.
Reinforcing humanitarian coordination, with proper staff and resources, is also essential to calibrate the response to acute needs in a very difficult humanitarian context.
The third key element is the mobilisation of funds in order to be able to provide an appropriate assistance to the thousands of people in need.
The respect of International Humanitarian Law, and the implementation of humanitarian operations in line with humanitarian principles is equally indispensable, given the complexity of the context.
We would also like to stress that ensuring humanitarian assistance to the affected population requires special attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups, particularly persons with disabilities, who are often the furthest left behind especially in situations of forced displacement and restricted humanitarian assistance
The EU provides humanitarian assistance to populations affected by the emergency in the Northwest and Southwest of Cameroon since 2018 and will continue to do so. The total amount allocated to humanitarian assistance for Cameroon in 2018 was EUR 19.4 million.
In conclusion, let me repeat the EU appreciation for this opportunity to discuss the humanitarian situation in Cameroon. Cameroon is an important partner for all of us in a troubled region. The country faces increasing challenges. The EU stands ready to work with the government and step up efforts to find lasting solutions.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.