Clashes have displaced 420,000 people in the country's Far North in 2022. Many depend on WFP assistance to survive
"We had to run at night in the bush to get to Mokolo," says Christina, a 33-year-old mother of six, who fled her home in the village of Tourou in the Far North Region of Cameroon last December to find refuge in the city of Mokolo, also located in the same region.
Having narrowly escaped an unexpected attack on their village by armed militias, Christina and her family were left with no means to provide for themselves. A family member in Mokolo gave them shelter.
"There isn't enough room for everybody. But at least here we can sleep well. I feel safe and I no longer live in fear,'' she says.
Over the past year, conflict and intercommunal clashes have displaced 420,000 people in Cameroon's Far North region. The majority of them are women and children, who now live with host families and rely mostly on humanitarian assistance to survive.
Before they were forced to flee, Christina and her family used to farm crops, raise livestock and manage a small business.
''We used to trade with the neighboring villages. But with the arrival of the armed groups, we had all given up,'' she says.
With support from the European Union (EU) and other partners, the World Food Programme (WFP) provides emergency food assistance through a special mechanism to address food and nutrition needs when a sudden new crisis comes on.
WFP used this mechanism to quickly respond to the needs of crisis-affected people, providing food assistance to 240,000 internally displaced people in the Far North so far in 2023.
By year's end, we hope to reach a total of 300,000 people in the region with emergency assistance and longer-term resilience-building support. Significant donor contributions, including from the EU, have allowed WFP to address the severe impact of the escalating global food crisis on displaced people like Christina -- and supported our efforts to empower local communities to build resilience against hunger, and to strengthen local markets amidst economic downturns.
Christina and her family counted among those receiving rice, oil, salt and beans to meet their basic food and nutrition needs for three months.
In addition to feeding displaced people, along with refugees from the Central African Republic, WFP also supports the Government's school meals programme in many schools -- including the one where Christina's children are now enrolled.
''I want my children to be educated and become autonomous in society. School meals keep them in school, so I have nothing to worry about,'' she says.
Christina hopes that one day she will be able to return to her village and reconnect with her relatives.
''If the situation does not improve, I have no option but to find something to do and live on here,'' she says. ''I need anything that will make me self-reliant.