Cameroon: Norwegian Refugee Council, Education Cannot Wait, call for end to School Attacks

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Yasmine Sherif, Director, ECW and Jan Egeland, Secretary-General NRC, at the Souza Gare school which hosts displaced children who have fled the violence in the North West and South West regions. Photo ECW-

The Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Jan Egeland and the Director of Education Cannot Wait, Yasmine Sherif who are both visiting the country have called on the warring factions to end attacks on educational institutions in Cameroon.

According to the latest report by the United Nations Humanitarian arm, UNOCHA, over 700,000 children have been impacted by school closures due to the ongoing crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. Meantime, two out of three schools in the North West and South West Regions are closed.

“This is among the most complex humanitarian crisis in the world today. Children and youth are having to flee their homes and schoolchildren are threatened with violence and kidnapping, and being forced into early childhood marriage and recruited into armed groups,” Yasmin Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait (United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crisis) said.

Students attending class at the Souza Gare school in the Littoral region, Cameroon. The school hosts displaced children who have fled the violence in the North-West and South-West regions. Photo- ECW-Danie

“We call for urgent support from donors to respond to this forgotten crisis. We call for the respect of human rights and adherence to the principles of international humanitarian law and the Safe School Declaration, and for partners to redouble efforts so all children and adolescents can get back to the safety, protection and hope that quality learning environments provThe Norwegian Refugee Council added that during the recent lockdown imposed by the non-state armed groups from September 15 to October 2, access to basic services such as health and education were limited. “Schools and community learning spaces were closed, except for some schools in urban areas which operated at less than 60 per cent capacity. About 200,000 people did not receive food due to the interruption of humanitarian activities,” UNOCHA stated.

“The lockdown and insecurity have forced UN agencies and aid organizations – including the Norwegian Refugee Council – to temporarily suspend the delivery of life-saving aid to people in need in both the North-West and South-West regions.”

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is working closely with UN agencies, the Norwegian Refugee Council and civil society education partners to build a multi-year resilience programme in Cameroon. ECW is contributing US$25 million over three years and calls for other donors to fill the gap which is estimated at $50 million. When fully funded, the programme will provide approximately 250,000 children and adolescents with access to safe and protective learning environments in the most-affected areas.

The programme builds on the impact of ECW’s ongoing First Emergency Response in Cameroon. Announced in May, the investment is designed to ensure refugee children fleeing from the Central African Republic receive access to quality, protective learning environments.

Yasmine Sherif, Director Education Cannot Wait and Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council meet students at the Souza Gare school in the Littoral region, Cameroon. Photo credits ECW

About the Norwegian Refugee Council:

The Norwegian Refugee Council is an international humanitarian organization helping people forced to flee. We work in new and protracted crises across 35 countries. We have been working in Cameroon since 2017. We assisted over 340,000 people in 2020, including with education, food, shelter and legal aid.

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increases the speed of responses in crises and connects immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming.

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