Country Background

Authoritarian leader President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982. Under Biya’s repressive regime, the disenfranchised Anglophone population lacks political representation in contrast to the French-speaking majority. In 2016, English-speaking students, teachers, and advocates took to the streets and protested their marginalization by the majority Francophone government. The protest was met with a severe crackdown by the state forces and has fueled the group’s mission to secede from Biya’s authoritarian regime and gain independence. Since late 2017, the Anglophone minority has been actively seeking independence from the Republic to establish their own state called Ambazonia. Both government and separatist forces have wreaked havoc throughout Cameroon, leaving a trail of scorched villages and devastation among civilian populations.

What Nonprofits Need to Know

Below in the blue is an overview of the humanitarian and peacebuilding needs in Cameroon. In the red are the primary sanctioned groups presently operating there. Because U.S. law prohibits the provision of “material support” to listed terrorists individuals and groups as well as engaging in trade with sanctioned persons and entities, the presence of these groups and sanctions programs can impact the delivery of aid and peacebuilding programs. The list below is non-exhaustive and changes frequently, so it is important for nonprofits to check all partners and those with whom they engage in transactions against, at a minimum, the U.S. Specially Designated National (SDN) and the United Nations Security Council Consolidated lists. Below the charts is information on OFAC licenses, where applicable, and links to our research and advocacy, and other relevant information.

Humanitarian &
Peacebuilding Needs

As of June 2021, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 4.4 million Cameroonians currently require humanitarian assistance.

Displacement: One million Cameroonians are now internally displaced. Cameroon also provides refuge to nearly 450,000 refugees, mostly from the Central African Republic, Nigeria, and Chad.

Food Security and Nutrition: As of October 2020, 2.7 million people were experiencing acute food insecurity in Cameroon.

Gender-based violence (GBV): According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, 56.4% of women in Cameroon have experienced emotional and/or sexual violence.

Ongoing Hostilities: According to the International Crisis Group, the war between the Cameroonian government and separatists has killed 4,000 people, and displaced 765,000, while the war with Boko Haram centered in the Far North has killed over 3,000, and displaced roughly 250,000.

Boko Haram: Formed in 2002, this group mainly operates in the Far North Region along Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. It is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and under the UN ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List. More information here.

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)-West Africa: Founded in 2002, this jihadist terrorist organization has been aligned with ISIS since 2015. Based primarily in Northeast Nigeria, its largest presence is in the Lake Chad region. It is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and under the UN ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List. More information here.

Primary Terrorist Presence &
Other Sanctioned Groups

Access overview of UN ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions committee here. Access overview of the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List here.

“The absence of a humanitarian response commensurate to the hundreds of thousands of people in great and unmet need is striking. We are too few humanitarian actors on the ground, and we are gravely underfunded.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council’s Statement to the UN Security Council on Cameroon 13 May 2019

Licenses offered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of Treasury enforces sanctions programs. It has a licensing process that allows transactions with sanctioned entities, including listed terrorist groups, that would otherwise be unlawful. Nonprofits that operate in areas affected by sanctions often apply for licenses from OFAC so that they are able to provide services to civilians in conflict zones around the world without running afoul of U.S. sanctions law, engage in peacebuilding activities and more. Find more information here.

Policy Reform

The Charity & Security Network advocates for change in national security measures to better support nonprofits working around the world. In fragile contexts, counterterrorism measures often impede humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organizations from accessing finance for their programs and serving populations in need. Find out more on our key issues below:

  • Find more information on Material Support here.
  • Find more information on Financial Access here.

Useful Links

Last updated: August, 2021