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.
Displacement: Almost 680,000 Cameroonians are now internally displaced. Cameroon also provides refuge to over 270,000 vulnerable refugees from the Central African Republic.
Disease and Healthcare: A cholera epidemic declared in July 2018, was ongoing at the start of 2019 with a total of 2064 cases and 111 deaths recorded as of December 2019.
Food Security and Nutrition: In 2020, an estimated107,000 people will suffer from global acute malnutrition (GAM), including 90,000 children under the age of five.
Gender-based violence (GBV): More than 85% of respondents to a 2019 International Rescue Committee assessmentsaid women and girls experience rape, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence, denial of resource/opportunities, psychological abuse, physical violence, and early marriage.
Ongoing Hostilities: According to the Crisis Group, the war with Boko Haram — centered in the Far North — has killed 2,000 Cameroonians, displaced 250,000, and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defense groups. Extra-judicial killings, beheadings, and mass arson have reportedly been perpetrated on both sides of the civil conflict.
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 aterrorist 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.
The Charity & Security Networkadvocates 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: