Refugee Welfare Association (REWAC) Cameroon

Bamenda, Cameroon
Joined July 2018

We work in Cameroon. We advocate for, promote, defend and enforce the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, inter alia, by the provision of pro bono legal aid.

Presence in: Cameroon
Focus: Citizenship & Identification, Education, Generalist Legal Services, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Women's Rights

According to statistics from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) , as at the 31st of March 2017, Cameroon is host to over 600,000 refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from 26 countries. The majority of them come from Nigeria, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Niger. These persons have been forced out of their country of origin for political, economic or social reasons. Amongst them, less than 1% is ‘resettled ‘ to countries where their rights are respected. Most of them have remained in Cameroon as their country of first asylum where their rights as refugees are not respected and their humane  conditions are deteriorating.

Cameroon is a Signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, Its Optional Protocols as well as the 1969 OUA Convention on the Treatment of Refugees in Africa. In the year 2005, Cameroon passed a national law on the protection of refugees. Yet, the law {supra) is at variance with the Constitution of Cameroon and the UN Refugee Convention. A major and critical problem is that of the determination of the status of refugees (RSD), which is left in the hands of the Office of the UN Refugee Agency alone and the local Courts have been totally excluded.. The 2005 law permits denied applicants to appeal within 30 days of notification but does not allow ordinary Courts to review decisions, yet as per the 2006 ordinance of Judicial Organization as amended, the competent High Courts are charged with the determination of the status of persons in Cameroon. Applicants submit their appeals to the same UN Refugee Agency for review and hearings are scheduled by the same UN Refugee Agency within three months. No known case of a refugee receiving representation by a Lawyer has been documented.  Without the determination of their status, these persons can not have access to other services like health care, work, housing, education, and other entitlements.