CAMEROON: United Nations allocates $4.7 million for Chadian refugees

Monday, March 31, 2008

The United Nations has announced today the allocation of $4,720,260 from the donor-supported Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to meet the humanitarian needs of Chadian refugees who fled to Cameroon’s north-eastern town of Kousséri earlier this month.

“Thanks to these funds, the United Nations will be able to assist and protect thousands of refugees over the coming weeks,” said John Holmes, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

The allocation includes grants of $1,687,843 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which leads the operation, $1,654,482 for the World Food Programme (WFP), $843,053 for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for six different projects, $330,630 for the World Health Organization (WHO), and $82,040 for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In addition, $122,212 has been allocated for the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) to ensure the operation’s safety.

“These grants are vital for funding our humanitarian response,” said Sophie de Caen, United Nations Resident Coordinator in the country. “In many instances, we had diverted funds and stocks from other activities. We will now be able to respond to the emergency in a systematic manner,” she added.

“With the funds granted to UNHCR, we intend to cover assistance for up to 20,000 refugees in Kousséri, and to relocate and register an estimated 15,000 of these refugees to a camp in the village of Maltam,” stated Jacques Franquin, Representative of UNHCR in Cameroon. “The camp, located 32 kilometres from Kousséri, is currently being equipped, and it started receiving the first refugees on 16 February,” he explained.

The UNHCR’s activities covered by the grant include the provision of emergency assistance to all refugees, the transport of refugees to Maltam and their registration, and the establishment of the camp in Maltam, including shelter facilities as well as two boreholes. The funds also enable UNHCR to procure basic non-food items (NFIs) such as plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, cooking stoves, soap, and sanitary items.

The WFP will use its grant to procure and deliver food aid to the refugees and to provide essential logistic support such as transport and storage of supplies. The UNICEF’s six projects include immunisations, maternal and neo-natal care, child nutrition, water and sanitation, and child protection, as well as recreational activities to ensure the well-being of refugee children. The WHO will be able to provide health care to the refugees, while UNFPA will carry out activities for reproductive health and against gender-based violence (GBV).

The Chadian refugees, most of them from the capital N’Djamena, started to cross the border into Cameroon on 2 February, when armed fighting erupted in Chad. At least 70 percent of them are women and children. Together with the Government of Cameroon, UNHCR and other United Nations agencies have already responded to the most urgent life-saving needs of all refugees. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly Médecins Sans Frontières – Switzerland (MSF-CH), have played an important role in the response so far.

Approved by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2005 as a successor to the Central Emergency Revolving Fund, the CERF aims to save lives by providing a more predictable and timely response to humanitarian emergencies. For 2008, 67 United Nations member states, as well as foundations and corporate and individual donors, have already committed nearly $420 million to the CERF. All United Nations agencies as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) can access CERF funds within 72 hours of a crisis. This enables them to save lives, especially during the earliest stages of a disaster, by immediately focusing on quick life-saving assistance.

Source: OCHA