REPORT ON THE TRAGIC SITUATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPs) in MAKEPE- DOUALA CAMEROON.
On Sunday 19th January 2020, the Association for Training and Rural Development (ATRUD) carried out an investigation on the bad situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) recently broadcasted on Equinox television wherein the IDPs from the North West and South West regions of Cameroon cried out for help from persons, groups or associations of goodwill. ATRUD decided to take it as a challenge since it is one of ATRUD’s objectives, to be able to reach out to the less privileged be they in rural communities, towns or in cities.
Who are internally displaced persons?
According to the guiding principles, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are a group of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violation of human rights or natural, man-made disasters and who have not crossed internationally recognized borders. When the ATRUD investigation team reached out to the MAKEPE neighborhood Douala Cameroon, we met a representative who is a chief from a village in Bali, North West region who welcomed the ATRUD team and outlined some of the difficulties facing the IDPs. However, he laid emphasis on aspects such as; poor feeding conditions, health, sleeping conditions, lack of space to keep those that are coming and those that are still to come. So he pleaded with ATRUD to help solve even part of the situation especially the infants and the youths.
What brought them to Douala, why did they flee from their homes and villages to Douala, Littoral region?
What we could gather from them is that, due to the war or political instability in the two (2) English-speaking regions of Cameroon, they were pushed to flee from their regions of origin. However, it rendered most of them homeless, as their homes were burned down and they lost everything they had materially and financially.
We also asked them what problems they were facing in the city Douala, Makepe neighborhood. The women explained more on their feeding conditions, health conditions, lack of education for their kids, joblessness, bad sleeping conditions, as explained below and their proposed solutions to be able to ameliorate their living conditions.
Firstly, the feeding conditions at Makepe neighborhood by the IDPs. They insisted that they are unable to eat a square meal a day. Even some of the children below seven (7) years are unable to eat a square meal a day at times. For that reason, it resulted to hawking by the adults and kids.
On the health aspect, they cried and even said they had lost a few because of poor health conditions and lack of medication. Diseases like; malaria, measles, diarrhea, ulcers, pregnancy related conditions, and others were common among the IDPs.
Many of the IDPs who have been out of school since the conflict started 3 years ago are gradually becoming illiterates. Some are becoming pickpockets in the neighborhood because of idleness and hunger. Others have become orphans having lost their parents to the war.
Furthermore, they also stressed on the unbearable sleeping conditions of the IDPs. This is because the space provided by the local chief is small for the ever-growing population now estimated at 350 to 450 people.
Regarding solutions, they pleaded with ATRUD for temporary basic needs like foodstuffs, medications, manual and odd jobs, sustainable skills like hairdressing, tailoring, cookery, shoe mending, barbing, plumbing, decoration, making of soap and detergents and so on. They also asked for working tools, machines because the ones they had were burnt down.
They begged ATRUD to assist their kids to go to school. When the children (students and pupils) were asked if they would like to go back to school, like a choir, they chanted “YES, YES, YES!!!” and some said they
wanted to become Doctors, Lawyers, teachers, bankers, engineers, etc..
The ATRUD team concluded by giving them words of encouragement, hope, faith and love and for all of them to pray for all ATRUD members, donors, partners, and other groups so that we will reach out to their cry and needs in due time.