The International Rescue Committee (IRC), funded by the European Union (EU), has provided integrated protection support for communities affected by the crisis in the South West region of Cameroon. The programme's aim has been to reinforce a protective environment and increase access to essential services for the most at-risk populations such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, women, and children.

Since 2018, Cameroon’s North West and South West regions have experienced high levels of insecurity and violence due to armed tensions between separatist militias and the country’s defense and security forces. Consequently, over 530,000 people — around two-thirds of them women — have been displaced, leaving 1.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

The IRC established its presence in Cameroon in 2016 through its work in the Far North region of the Lake Chad basin, expanding to the South West in 2018. IRC have since built strong relationships with community members, local leaders and government bodies that have facilitated intervention in hard-to-reach and insecure areas. As a result, the IRC has played an integral role in providing services such as emergency protection, basic needs, and WASH assistance including food and nutrition support, providing clean water and improving sanitation facilities, and distributing basic supplies such as water containers, cooking utensils and blankets to displaced families.

Funding from the EU has allowed the IRC to focus its efforts on the urgent protection needs in critical areas of the Southwest, with a total of almost 16,800 individuals – around 11,000 of which are women and girls who have been reached with services such as psychological support, case management, individualised emergency protection kits, and referrals for medical care. Moreover, the IRC has conducted training and awareness-raising sessions for various community groups on topics such as gender equality, child protection, and gender-based violence (GBV).

Stephanie Buell, Country Director of IRC Cameroon, said:

“Ongoing violence in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon continues to deteriorate the protective environment for local populations, leaving persons with disabilities, the elderly, women, and children most at-risk. By providing these groups with the necessary support that they need the IRC hopes to help them navigate through the complex challenges that come with conflict, insecurity, and uncertainty. Funding from partners like the EU contributes to helping our clients reclaim control over their lives – enabling them to access not only the services they need the most, but also to provide them a safe environment in which to live their lives.”