On 6 September, school doors for the 2021-2022 academic year opened in Cameroon, including in the North-West and South-West (NWSW) regions. However, two out of three schools remained closed, keeping over 700,000 children and adolescents out of school. According to statistics from SW education authorities, collected after the first week of schooling, 53 per cent of secondary schools in the region were not functional. At the basic education level, 49 per cent of primary schools and 47 per cent of Nursery schools still have their doors closed. In the NW region, the situation is worse as only 23 per cent of secondary schools were functional as of 15 September.
Non-State state armed groups (NSAGs) continue to intimidate parents, children, and teachers with attacks on education. By 17 September, NSAGs carried out several attacks in the North-West region: they kidnapped eight students in Bamenda town in the NW, harassed and humiliated them before releasing them after their families paid ransoms. They attacked a girl and chopped her fingers for going to school during the imposed lockdown in Donga-Mantung division. They kidnapped five public school principals in Ngo-Ketunjia division, and killed one of them six days later.
On 11 September, a NSAG announced a general lockdown in the two regions from 15 September to 2 October 2021. The decision banned all movement, work, and social activities. The announcement did not exempt humanitarian activities but gave the exception for ambulances for medical emergencies only. Access to basic services including health, education, and livelihoods was severely affected, and protection activities were severely impacted.
During the lockdown, all schools and community learning spaces were closed, except for some schools in few urban areas which operated at less than 60 per cent of their capacity, compared to the first week of the 2021-2022 academic year. About 200,000 people missed food rations due to the interruption of humanitarian activities and food distributions. Health Cluster partners operating in hard-to-reach and conflict-affected areas could not provide mobile clinic services or critical assistance. On the eve of the lockdown, about 700 people fled their villages to West and Littoral regions, and about 1,800 persons moved to urban centers or safer localities within the NWSW.
Additionnaly, the security situation worsened in certain areas, with frequent use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against military, and increased armed confrontations between State security forces and NSAGs. Partners reported kidnappings and attacks against people defying the lockdown including bike riders, students and teachers. This caused the displacement of over 2,224 additional people before the lockdown.
Since 15 September, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have been obliged to fully suspend humanitarian activities and put on hold the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in need in both regions. Lockdowns negatively impact the humanitarian response which is drastically underfunded. As of 30 September, only 15.8 per cent of the NWSW 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan had been funded.