The 2018 commemoration of the World Refugee Day in Cameroon took place at a time when the dire crisis in the Central African Republic continues to trigger massive forced displacement, increasing pressure on resources and living conditions in Eastern region of Cameroon. According to OCHA, CAR remains the country with the highest humanitarian needs per capita, with 50 per cent of the population having to rely on humanitarian assistance to survive, while 25 per cent is displaced either internally or in a neighbouring country.
Northern Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram spilled over to the Lake Chad Basin region, where Nigerian refugees are hosted since 2014, causing large scale forced displacement and an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The event in Yaounde took place in 2 phases:
- Official ceremony
A Commemorative event for the 2018 World Refugee Day organized by the UNHCR in collaboration with the Ministry of External Relations, (MINREX) took place at the Refugees Community Centre in Yaounde on Wednesday 20 June 2018.
The President of the “Collectif de Yaounde” expressed her gratitude to the Cameroon government for the legendary hospitality and support given to Refugees, while UNHCR was also appreciated for the strong and sustained assistance they continue to give them.
The Secretary at the Permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees representing the Minister of External Relations, outlined measures taken by Government to tackle refugees’ request, emphasizing that Refugees are actors of development, and promised more assistance to refugees. Suffice to add that Cameroon is the 13th refugee receiving country in the world and 7th in Africa
Mrs. Roseline Okoro, UNHCR; deputy Resident Representative read the message of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee at the ceremony, in which increased solidarity to Refugees was promised.
These speeches were interspersed by folkloric dances exhibited by the different Refugee communities such as Rwanda, Chad, etc.
- Panel discussion on the: “Rights and duties of Refugees in Cameroun”
Panelists included students from the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon-IRIC, Secretary of the permanent Technique Secretariat for Refugees at MINREX and UNHCR.
Remy; student of IRIC explained the genesis and the context on the World Refugee Day, relating it to the 1959 Geneva conference.
Miss Ngah Gaëlle, equally of IRIC stressed the Right of Refugees in Cameroon, as spelt out in the Geneva Convention. She thus stated that refugees in Cameroon have all the rights, as human beings, to include; housing, traffic, social assistance, freedom of religion, etc.M. Keppi Eric harped on the duties of Refugees in Cameroon, reminding them that all refugees in Cameroon must obey the laws of the country as highlighted in article 12 of the 2005 law governing the rights and duties of refugees in Cameroon.
UNIC Yaoundé prepared information kits comprised of the UNSG message, UNGA A/RES/55/76 12 February 2001 which proclaimed 20 June as World Refugee Day, background documents on the genesis of the day and various distinctive definitions on terms such as refugees, Asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, Stateless Persons, and returnees. This was distributed to the over 150 participants at the event.