Buea (National Times)-Following the outing of Territorial Administration Minister to ‘influence’ the work of humanitarian organizations on the ground in the conflict-hit North West and South West regions, the United Nations Coordinator and resident head of humanitarian affairs, Allegra Baiocchi has insisted on “neutrality” and “impartiality” in the work of such agencies
After attending a meeting in Buea with Minister Atanga Nji on new guidelines in the distribution of humanitarian aid, the UN top diplomat has remained defiant. In a recent tweet, just after the meeting in Buea, she maintained the stance of humanitarian organizations which in recent times is gradually becoming ad variance with that of the Cameroon government.
“Welcoming Cameroon humanitarian coordination centres in Buea and Bamenda. My key message: humanitarian action has to be supported according to humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality. Civilians need effective protection and assistance now!” Allegra Baiocchi said.
It should be noted that earlier on in the week, the Minister Paul Atanga Nji who doubles as the General Coordinator of government’s humanitarian plan held a meeting with representatives of humanitarian organisations operating in Anglophone Cameroon. In the course of the meeting, Atanga Nji announced the creation of coordination centres for humanitarian affairs in Buea and Bamenda.
The Minister went further to state that henceforth all humanitarian organizations would be obliged to go through a control mechanism at the centre before deploying into the field. In the course of such an operation, their materials would be checked and their destinations as well, Atanga Nji noted.
While handing over booklets to the various coordinators containing the new approach, Atanga Nji also urged the organizations providing support and relief to war victims to submit regular reports about their activities on the ground.
According to him, some of the organizations have turned the war into a business and are using it to tarnish the image of Cameroon especially internationally. He said for these reasons and others, there is need for checks and balances.
However, the latest tweet from the UN Coordinator in Cameroon is an indication that these organizations differ with Atanga Nji’s approach. Nonetheless, Baiocchi was reminding Atanga Nji of the rules of intervention by humanitarian organizations which calls for strict neutrality without siding with any of the belligerents.
Most IDPs trust the work of these organizations because of their neutrality and in some cases, gifts from the government have been rejected by the locals because of its direct involvement in the conflict.
The Minister, it should be noted has had a strained relationship with human rights and humanitarian organizations whom he accused of inflating figures of the war to make profit. The Minister challenged the figures of more than a million persons internally displaced and argued that only 152,000 persons are displaced with 104,000 already benefiting from government assistance. According to Atanga Nji the “situation is under control” and there is no need for raising an alarm as being done by some institutions.