Cameroon Crisis Has Devastating Impact On Children

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Protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda (file photo).

Yaounde — REBEL groups have kidnapped, raped and recruited children during the worsening situation in English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

Communities in those areas have been demanding independence. The crisis is devastating the future of youngsters.

Children account for half of the 1,3 million people displaced and in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in the North-West and South-West regions.

Armed groups have kidnapped more than 300 students and teachers since 2018. They have since been released but their future remains bleak.

Over 80 percent of schools are closed due to a ban on education by militants. At least 74 schools have been destroyed.

More than 600 000 children have been affected.

"For many children, it has been three years since they last stepped foot in a classroom," said Toby Fricker, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson.

Fricker said when children were out of school, they faced higher risks of recruitment by armed groups and were more likely to be exposed to child marriage, early pregnancy and trauma.

Children are among vulnerable individuals with insufficient access to basic services such as healthcare and safe drinking water.

An estimated 40 percent of health facilities are not functioning.

UNICEF needs US$20 million (R287 million) to respond to the emergency in the North-West and South-West regions this year.

Pre-independence Cameroon was shared between France and Britain.

France had a bigger territory.

Some 80 percent of the 24 million-population speak French.

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