The ongoing separatist conflict in Cameroon’s western regions has created a growing humanitarian emergency that has affected close to two million people. Humanitarian experts say those displaced by the fighting need help resettling, but also psychological support. A clinic in Cameroon’s capital provides rare trauma therapy for those affected.
Fifty-one-year-old Judith Ndome says rebels in Cameroon’s Southwest invaded her farm in 2018, demanding she give them money.
When she refused, they beat her, took her farm and burned it to the ground. The attack left her traumatized and unable to sleep.
She says she is sick. Her farm is where she used to sit. Judith says she thinks about her farms. Her farms gave her food. Even when she was not working, her farms were producing. She doesn’t want to think about it anymore. But how does she stop thinking about that?”
Ndome fled her village to Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, where she found help at a unique trauma clinic run by the Hope and Rehabilitation organization.
Psychologist Cyrille Massala says when people have undergone therapy, at least 80 to 90 percent of them will come out improved and will be able to reintegrate into society and help others. Doctor Massala says the trauma healing is a learning session for a new life.
Hope and Rehabilitation say they have helped over 1,200 internally displaced people like Ndome since starting the clinic four years ago.
The group also gives food aid to IDPs and plans to start job training, if it can get enough donor funding.
Kwa Mendi Fritz, the National Coordinator of Hope and Rehabilitation Organization says the NGO wants to organize a session whereby internally displaced persons will be trained on income-generating activities. Kwa Mendi adds, the NGO doesn’t want a situation where internally displaced people will just receive food. The NGOs want to train them so that they can become independent and sustainable.
Cameroon’s ongoing military-separatist clashes in the western regions mean the need for trauma therapy will only grow.
The United Nations says the conflict has impacted the lives of nearly two million people, including more than half-a-million displaced, and claimed some 3,000 lives.