Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons in Cameroon

Inclusion of refugees and internally displaced persons in the 2023 Cameroon Population and Housing census.
1 Sep, 2023

Overall objectives

The main objective of this project is to fill the gap in data on displaced persons in Cameroon by including refugees and properly identifying internally displaced persons in the 2023 Cameroon Population and Housing Census, as a basis for the inclusion of these populations in national statistics exercises. The project will also produce analytical products, disaggregated by the different displaced population groups and their hosts, providing a source of evidence for development policy and programming.

Activity description

The 2023 Cameroon Population and Housing Census will be the fourth and will cover household and individual socioeconomic indicators, in line with international standards. The Census will provide a comprehensive picture of the demographic, housing, assets, education and documentation of the population, as well as details on livelihoods, transfers, fertility, disability, migration, and household agricultural activities (farming, fishing, livestock and poultry owned).

An MoU was signed in March 2023 between UNHCR and the Cameroonian Census Bureau- Bureau Central des Recensements et des Etudes de Population (BUCREP) clarifying the roles and obligations of all parties, outlining the purpose of the collaboration and setting the standards of data collection (including data privacy and data sharing procedures). Following this, both organizations organized a workshop in June 2023 to identify the best ways to enumerate forcibly displaced persons, to include refugee-related questions in the census questionnaire and to identify internally displaced people (IDPs) and returnees. As a result, a minimum number of questions based on the EGRISS recommendations were added to identify refugees, IDPs and returnees.

BUCREP will be responsible for the data collection, and UNHCR will support it by donating equipment (computers, smartphones, others) and providing technical and field guidance and both teams will jointly produce two analytical outputs.

To raise the profile of the census among forcibly displaced people, senior UNHCR Management will participate in the launch. This will be complemented by TV spot advertisements, local radio broadcasts and other communications directly to the community.

Engagement with partners

The collaboration between UNHCR Cameroon and the BUCREP is a significant partnership, vital in determining the needs of different segments of the population, including necessary services and equipment. UNHCR and the World Bank will work with BUCREP to finalize the questionnaire and to plan the analytical outputs.  The project also involves a strong collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, as they are BUCREP’s main technical partners for the census. Other government entities involved include the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,the Ministry of Territorial Administration, and the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development.

Background and Context

Cameroon has a long tradition of hospitality towards refugees and asylum seekers which have entered the country over the last twenty years from the Central Africa Republic (73 percent, who now live in Adamoua, the East and the North regions) and from Nigeria (26 percent, who now live in the Far North region). As of May 2023, Cameroon hosted more than two million forcibly displaced people, including one million IDPs and almost half a million refugees and asylum seekers. Around 40 percent of IDPs live in the far north and the rest in the north-west and south-west regions.

In response, the Government of Cameroon organized the Regional Ministerial Conference on Solutions in the Context of Forced Displacement, resulting in the Yaoundé Declaration. The Government also developed a Recovery and Peace Consolidation strategy, in collaboration with the World Bank and United Nations, to accelerate the progress towards sustainable solutions and to take greater ownership of humanitarian response.

The 2023 population and housing census offers the opportunity to fill gaps in the data on displaced people in Cameroon through proper identification of displaced persons in Cameroon, in line with the internationally approved EGRISS recommendations on refugees and IDPs statistics and collection of relevant data on their conditions. In the long run, this exercise will go a long way to including forcibly displaced people in national policy and programs by providing details on highly vulnerable population groups.


For further details on this activity, please contact:

Donatien Beguy – [email protected]

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