‘No one without shelter after disaster’
The international disaster relief charity ShelterBox has launched a fundraising appeal to help it reach its mission of no one without shelter after disaster.
With more than 100 million people still displaced around the world, getting emergency shelter support to people who need it most remains ShelterBox’s priority.
‘While some crises feature heavily in the media’s spotlight, places like Cameroon slip under the radar almost entirely,’ says Flora Longley-Cook, ShelterBox’s programme manager for Cameroon. She’s recently returned from a deployment to the country.
‘It means that sometimes there can be a humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people and very few people seem to know about it. We want to change that with the help of our supporters who we rely on to fund our responses.’
ShelterBox’s Spring fundraising appeal aims to raise £100,000 which will help the charity provide crucial support to people affected by conflict and extreme weather events. Cameroon is one of many countries where ShelterBox is currently responding.
More than 4.7 million people are estimated to be in need from crises across the country, which includes the rise in armed violence in Nigeria that’s spilled over to the Lake Chad Basin region.
Despite supporting more than 100,000 people in the far north of the country since 2015, ShelterBox has warned of thousands more people without shelter.
Emergency tents and cookers
The charity is supporting people in and around a vast refugee site known as Minawao camp and is the sole provider of emergency tents there.
It’s also providing items like mosquito nets, water carriers and cook sets that are making a life-changing and tangible difference to families who have lost their homes and belongings due to conflict and displacement.
ShelterBox is hoping to support more than 50,000 people in the far north of Cameroon during its latest project in the country.
‘The need is so apparent, but the world isn’t being told about it,’ says Flora. ‘When I visited a transit centre for the camp recently it was completely over-crowded.’
‘A space meant for 250 people had around 2,000 people there waiting to move to Minawao camp.’
‘As well as supporting new arrivals with emergency tents, we’re offering more durable shelter solutions for people displaced for longer, alongside our partner Public Concern.’
‘We’re also making community toolkits available for people to borrow so they can make their existing shelters more robust with items like tarpaulins, wood, nails and cement.’
‘For a parent the most important thing is to guarantee the safety and future of your children,’ she Mallam who is a young widow forced to flee her home with her three children after an armed group attacked.
Food and drinkable water
Uprooted twice by attacks, Mallam spent time without food, drinkable water, or a place to sleep before arriving at the refugee site where she would receive support from ShelterBox.
Simple items like water filters and solar lights can make such a huge difference when there is no clean water or electricity.
‘What I appreciate the most about the lamps is probably the fact that they are rechargeable and solar powered,’ says Mallam. ‘I am very happy!’
Mallam is now able to look to her future and is looking for ways to start a business to generate some income to help her family.
‘I am aware of how lucky I have been to have survived an ordeal twice in a row. Life inside a refugee camp is not enviable but there are worse ones,’ she says.
‘I thank my people very much for their extreme generosity. They can’t help everyone, that’s obvious and not everyone has been so lucky.’
‘The need for shelter and other essential items in the far north of Cameroon remains urgent,’ says Alice Byron, Head of supporter engagement for ShelterBox.
‘Thousands of families are still living in makeshift camps or in inadequate housing, with no access to basic sanitation, clean water, or other essential services.’
‘That’s why we’re launching our Spring fundraising appeal so we can help more people around the world who have lost their homes, uprooted by conflict and extreme weather events – including in places that go overlooked.’
‘Every donation will make a real difference to the lives of those who have lost everything.’
Tailoring support for communities
No two disasters are the same. And responses can’t be the same either. That’s why ShelterBox teams work with affected communities to understand what people need the most before tailoring its support.
Since 2000, ShelterBox has helped more than 2.5 million people across the world with different combinations of emergency shelter aid, support, and essential household items.
This includes items like tents, tarpaulins, tool kits, blankets, mosquito nets, solar lights, cooking sets, water carriers and filters, as well as cash, training, and other solutions.
To find out more about ShelterBox or to make a donation, people can visit www.shelterbox.org/cameroon-appeal
As well as Cameroon, the charity is currently helping people displaced by conflict in places like Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Burkina Faso, and Mozambique.
It’s also supporting people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, monsoon flooding in Pakistan, and drought in East Africa.
Mallam was forced to flee her home when an armed group attacked. Image supplied courtesy of ShelterBox.
Mallam and her children received support from ShelterBox. Image supplied courtesy of ShelterBox.