Conflict and Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria caused people to seek refuge in Cameroon in 2015

Formed by the unification of former British and French colonies, the modern West African state of Cameroon was created in 1961.

Home to nearly 24 million people, the country has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa and is often referred to as "Africa in miniature" due to its geological and cultural diversity.

In recent years, the mainly-Muslim far north of the country has been drawn into the regional Islamist insurgency of terror group Boko Haram.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Cameroon in 1984. Our work in the country has focused on responding to endemic and epidemic diseases and caring for displaced people.

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MSF’s work in Cameroon: 2015

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened an emergency programme in the far north of Cameroon this year in response to an influx of people fleeing violence in Nigeria.

Conflict and Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria caused hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Niger in 2015.

During the course of the year, violence spread from Nigeria into the three neighbouring countries, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands more. By December, there were some 70,000 refugees and around 90,000 internally displaced people in Cameroon.

Care for Nigerian refugees

In response, MSF started to provide medical assistance to people in several locations in the north of the country. From February, a team offered medical care, maternal services and nutritional support in the UNHCR-administered Minawao refugee camp.

“Boko Haram burned our house and took all our cows and belongings. They kidnapped my wife and two of my children and held them in one of their jails. My wife managed to escape and is trying to join me in Minawao, but I don’t have any news of my children. I don’t even know if they are still alive.”

Samuel45, from nigeria

In the towns of Mokolo and Mora, near the border with Nigeria, MSF provided specialised nutritional and paediatric care to the displaced and the local population, carrying out a total of 12,921 consultations.

Nearly 5,000 children were admitted for care. In June, MSF started supporting the surgical ward at the local hospital in Kousseri, on the Chadian border, performing emergency interventions and caesarean sections.  

In July, two suicide attacks in the city of Maroua caused a large number of casualties, and MSF helped the local health authorities to treat the wounded.    

Assistance to Central African refugees

In the eastern part of Cameroon, MSF continued to assist refugees who had escaped conflict and violence in neighbouring Central African Republic in 2014. The majority of patients were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and respiratory infections.

In July, MSF handed over its medical activities at the Protestant hospital in Garoua-Boulaï to the French Red Cross. During its year at the facility, MSF treated 1,635 children for malnutrition.

In the border town of Gbiti, MSF ran a therapeutic feeding centre, provided primary healthcare consultations and referred severely ill patients to the district hospital in Batouri.

MSF also supported the local health authorities at Batouri hospital in the management of patients with severe complicated malnutrition, the majority of whom were children under five. Over 1,800 children were treated in the 90-bed therapeutic feeding centre during the year.

find out more in our international activity report