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Food Aid in Cameroon’s Refugee Camps Replaced by Mobile Money; Allow Women to Rely Less on Husbands

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support

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Hope endures for cameroonian refugees in Nigeria seeking to return home. VOA

In refugee camps in Cameroon, food aid has been replaced by mobile money payments.  The system allows refugees to choose what food they buy and allows women to rely less on their husbands in the mostly polygamous society.

Djenaba Abdoulaye, a Central African Republic refugee in eastern Cameroon, no longer has to ask her husband for rations of food aid. Instead, she does her weekly shopping with aid money for refugees that was transferred directly to her mobile phone.

Djenaba says the program helped her a lot by giving her a lot of capabilities.  As she is in a polygamous home of three women, her husband used to take food for all of the family and shared it among the three wives.  Now, she says, each wife has her phone, benefits from the assistance for her children and herself and uses it as she wants.

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support. Before the transfer program, only the head of a refugee household – usually the husband – received the monthly rations of oil, salt, sugar, beans, and cassava flour.

The mobile payment system is not unique to Cameroon. But for the mostly polygamous C.A.R. refugees, it has been empowering because every wife is treated as head of a household and receives a monthly allowance. Nana Amoah is head of the local World Food Program office.

“WFP is currently assisting just about 48,000 refugees via cash-based transfer and one of the main reasons why cash is becoming more and more important in the humanitarian context for WFP – it gives the beneficiary the choice of food selected in a food basket that (is) available,” said Amoah.

The WFP provides refugees with a mobile phone and SIM card that accesses an electronic portfolio to receive the monthly allowances.

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The electronic transfer of aid has also helped male refugees, like local shopkeeper Mama Lamine. He says the program allowed him to take care of himself and to solve the problems of his family.  Now he no longer depends on food assistance, says Lamine, and can take care of his children’s school fees and equip his house.

While limited by telecommunications, the use of mobile cash transfers is expected to grow and give more refugees choices about what they do with the aid they receive. (VOA)

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United States Plans to Stop Preferential Trade Status of Cameroon in 2020

The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region

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The 2000 law aims to stimulate United states trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free. Pixabay

United States to end Cameroon’s preferential trade status in 2020 because of alleged human rights violations, a charge the West African nation’s government disputes.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.”

As of Jan. 1, Cameroon would be removed from the list of countries benefiting from the African Growth and Opportunity Act.  The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free.

Participants’ responsibilities

Cameroon was among 39 countries participating as of last January. Participants must show evidence of working toward a market-based economy, upholding core labor standards, establishing the rule of law and respecting human rights.

Activist groups such as Human Rights Watch have reported “credible accounts of torture and abuse” in Cameroon, where a two-year crisis over Anglophone-speaking regions’ push for separation from the predominantly French-speaking country has left at least 2,000 people dead.

In August, for example, HRW said Cameroonian authorities had held more than 100 detainees for weeks in overcrowded conditions, subjected them to torture and delayed trials. Detainees complained of beatings “with wooden clubs and machetes.”

Trump blamed rights violations on the administration of Paul Biya, president since 1982.

Cameroon’s information minister, Rene Emmanuel, defended the government.

United States
President of United States- Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.” Pixabay

“We think Cameroon is certainly one of the countries in Africa [that] has done a lot in terms of democracy, in terms of promoting liberties,” he told VOA in a phone call Thursday from the capital, Yaounde.

But, he added, “Maybe there is a lot of injustice in our country where the respect of human rights is concerned. So I think we will have to look into this decision.”

Critical of treatment

Emmanuel said Cameroon’s government was being treated unfairly.

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Last year’s top United States exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. Pixabay

“Bad things are committed by separatists and not widely condemned. The humanitarian organization … behaves as if they don’t see anything concerning all the atrocities or forces who are there to take our citizens,” he said, suggesting government security forces were “there to preserve the integrity of the country.”

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Cameroon is the United States’ 128th-largest trading partner, with $413 million worth of goods exchanged in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Last year’s top U.S. exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. (VOA)