On behalf of the United States, it is my pleasure to welcome you to today’s Arria-Formula meeting on the Humanitarian Crisis in Cameroon. We are joined by a distinguished panel of speakers – I will introduce them individually in a moment – who will inform us about the scope of the crisis and make recommendations on how to address it.
I would like to thank our co-hosts – the Dominican Republic, Germany, and the UK – for their support in organizing today’s gathering, and we would like to warmly welcome participating member states and members of civil society who are joining us in this room and via webcast all over the world.
Today’s meeting is an opportunity to better understand Cameroon’s humanitarian crisis, the challenges and the dangers of helping populations in need, and the threats to respect for international humanitarian law.
Our desired outcomes for this meeting are an increased awareness and visibility of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Cameroon, plus the immediate opening of humanitarian space and the provision of unhindered access for humanitarian personnel by parties to the conflict.
Since 2018, the U.S. government has contributed more than $87 million in Cameroon to provide humanitarian assistance to host communities, IDPs, and refugees. This aid is critical for saving lives, but it can only be effective when we have access to vulnerable populations.
To better understand the scale of the crisis, I am delighted to be joined by leaders in the field with firsthand knowledge of the situation on the ground.
Under Secretary-General Mark Lowcock needs no introduction regarding his role overseeing UN humanitarian assistance. We are grateful you are here.
We also welcome two expert practitioners who made the trip to New York to speak to us regarding their personal experiences providing humanitarian assistance in Cameroon.
Esther Omam Njomo is the Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon. Welcome, Esther, to the UN, and thank you for making the trip from the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
Father Paul Fru Njokikang serves as the Director of Caritas for the Archdiocese of Bamenda in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. Thank you for joining us in New York.
Finally, noted humanitarian Jan Egeland, the current Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council and former UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, joins us by videoconference from Oslo. Jan, we look forward to hearing more about what you saw and heard during your recent trip to Cameroon.
But first things first: Under Secretary Lowcock, I invite you to set the stage for our conversation. The floor is yours.
Thank you. On behalf of the co-hosts, I would like to thank all UN member states and civil society representatives for your participation in today’s meeting. Our presence here today was an important demonstration of the international community’s desire to see Cameroon’s most vulnerable populations receive much-needed humanitarian aid, for its children to have access to schools, and for all parties to show respect for international humanitarian law.
We call on the international community to continue implementing a coordinated and robust humanitarian response.
We call on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, allow aid workers to safely access people in need, and cease attacks against aid facilities, hospitals and medical professionals.
Finally, we call on all the parties to the conflict to ensure that all the children of Cameroon are able to attend school safely.
The meeting is adjourned.