Disarmament and reintegration: Cameroon has made the protection of children in the context of DDR a priority.

Disarmament and reintegration: Cameroon has made the protection of children in the context of DDR a priority.

Yaoundé November 10, 2023– According to data from the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee -NDDRC, 1,189 children are registered at the Meri Center, presumed to be associated with armed groups and/or forces in conflict zones. Therefore, the needs of these children, who make up almost half of the Centre's population, is becoming a fundamental priority for the Cameroon government and all its humanitarian and development partners. In order to ensure stability, access to basic social services and a better future for children associated with armed groups and/or forces in conflict zones, the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NDDRC) organized a workshop to consolidate the referral system for children in the disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration process, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), from November 8 to 10, 2023 at the Hôtel Starland in Yaoundé..

The purpose of the workshop was to develop and consolidate the various tools needed to operationalize and implement a referral system for children enrolled in the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process in Cameroon. Specifically, the workshop aimed to draw up an action plan to implement the needs of children associated with armed groups in terms of education, health, protection, nutrition and the socio-economic integration of young people, and to validate the technical elements of a referencing system.

The proposed action plan resulted from an initiative by NDDRC to carry out an assessment of the needs of children associated with armed groups in the Far North region, following an observation of the high number of children present in particular in the Meri transition center. From November 23 to 25, 2022, the Assessment Mission carried out visits to the Mora, Meri and Meme sites, collecting factual data on several categories, including groups of young people, adolescents and children, disaggregated by sex, currently at the DDR sites. Subsequently, on July 26, 2023, a high-level meeting between the National DDR Coordinator, His Excellency Francis Fai Yengo, the UNICEF Representative Ms. Nadine Perrault, and the IOM Representative Mr. Abdel Rahmane Diop was held at NDDRC headquarters to discuss the next steps on the basis of the assessment mission report, in order to provide the technical units with guidelines for implementing the recommendations.

In November 2022, statistics shared by the DDR showed that 1,189 children, including 647 boys and 542 girls, were registered at the Meri Center. To date, there are 1,460 men, 887 women and 1,408 children in the three DDR Centers in the North-West, South-West and Far-North Regions of Cameroon. Children associated with armed groups are often kidnapped or born into families belonging to armed groups.

Child protection is a priority for the Cameroonian government. At international level, this protection is reflected in the ratification of various legal instruments for the protection of children, notably the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its various optional protocols. The establishment of a national working group on mental health and psychosocial support, to which all related actions will be addressed, is a clear example of this. The UN, in cooperation with its international partners, seeks to support peace efforts, notably through the financial support of the United Nations PeaceBuilding Fund-UNPBF.


For further information, please contact : Sarama TAMOTO, NEXUS Specialist at OIM in Cameroon, and Laure Anny Atangana, Communication Specialist at UNICEF,