The World Bank has given an approval for its International Development Association (IDA) to disburse a package of $274 million for funding of four projects focusing on helping refugees and host communities in Cameroon. The projects will provide access to health care, education, social safety nets, and social and economic infrastructure to the vulnerable citizens, refugees and asylum seekers.
A press release from the headquarters of the Bretton Woods institution in Washington DC said the fund includes a $130 million grant from the IDA Refugee Sub-Window. According to the institution, Cameroon is the first country to benefit from $2 billion of dedicated funding provided by IDA to support low-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
“Cameroon has a long history of hosting refugees from neighboring countries. Today it generously hosts almost 350,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria, with about 10,000 new arrivals since the start of 2018 alone. Cameroon is also party to most major international agreements relevant to refugees,” the release reads in part.
The World Bank Country Director for Cameroon, Elisabeth Huybens is quoted in the press release issued on May 1, as saying, the resources are critical to support the government in bringing adequate services to refugees and their host communities. “Most refugees live side by side with Cameroonians in the regions that are already the poorest and most fragile of Cameroon, including the area subject to Boko Haram attacks. The four projects will work together in an integrated manner to bring multi-sector solutions to the complex problems of refugees and their host communities,” she said.
Working in coordination, the package – consisting of the Social Safety Net Project, Health System Performance Reinforcement Project, Community Development Program Support Project and the Education Reform Support Project – aims to improve access to health care and education for both refugees and host communities, include the most vulnerable households in social safety nets, and make sure that municipal development plans are developed jointly by host communities and refugees and deliver small public works that are critical to host communities and refugees alike.
To ensure success of these operations, a strong refugee protection framework remains essential. The package was developed in close collaboration with the government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This strong collaboration will continue throughout implementation.
UNHCR’s Representative in Cameroon, Kouassi Lazare Etien, for his part said “UNHCR welcomes this crucial new support to improve access to health, education and other social services for refugees and the local Cameroonians hosting them through projects jointly developed by UNHCR, the World Bank and local authorities. This new approach shows how the presence of refugees can bring development opportunities to hosting areas.”