More than 500,000 people have fled conflict in the southwest and northwest Anglophone regions of Cameroon in anticipation of a lockdown called by rebels, a UN spokesman said Wednesday.
“The humanitarian situation in the two regions continues to deteriorate with 1.3 million people, a third of the local population, now in need of humanitarian assistance,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The conflict there has displaced over 500,000 people.”
Dujarric said armed fighting and insecurity continue to be the main impediments to the provision of assistance and a barrier to those in need to reach areas where they could receive aid.
Eight out of Cameroon’s 10 regions are being impacted by various humanitarian crises with around 4.3 million people in need of emergency assistance. “That is a 30 percent increase from last year,” he said.
Published reports said the rebels called for a lockdown in protest of the jailing of leaders of the separatist movement.
The rebels protest government-imposed French in the predominantly English-speaking southwest and northwest regions.
The lockdown aimed to keep Cameroonians in the regions off the streets for three weeks as a protest.
Residents fled in fear of increased violence that claimed the lives of 40 people earlier this month, the reports said.
The Anglophone crisis started in 2016.
The humanitarian response plan for Cameroon is seeking 299 million U.S. dollars to assist over 2 million people this year, but it is only 22 percent funded, making it one of the most under-funded humanitarian appeals globally, the spokesman said.