In a bit to alleviate suffering during and after disasters and wars around the world as stipulated by the International Humanitarian Charter, UFC as a local non-governmental organization saw the rising need to support the efforts of international humanitarian organizations at the local level (Cameroon). We do this by providing relief assistance in the form of medication, food, and psychological first aid to victims of disasters and conflict. Under this program, we run the Safe a life project.
In the wake of the current socio-political crisis rocking the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, over 1 million people have been displaced internally (OCHA 2020) and many others have been arrested and carted away to prisons out of their regions of origin and out of contact with family members.
While in these prisons, most of the detainees have seen their health conditions deteriorate and are faced with a persistent challenge of inadequate food and basic needs to nourish and carter for their bodies, a situation which has been made worse by the distance separating them from their loved ones.
During one of its routine visits to persons in detention at the Yaoundé Central Prison in September 2018, Unity Foundation Cameroon-UFC, learned of the deplorable living conditions of the detainees, and decided to launch the “Save a life project” in order to salvage the situation. This project was later extended to other prisons across Cameroon where many people are detained unjustly. Critically affected families have equally been included in the project.
Since the project was launched on September 14, 2018, over 1200 persons under detention in the Yaoundé Central and Principal Prisons, New Bell Prison in Douala, Bamenda Central Prison, Buea Central Prison, Bafoussam Central Prison, Ntui Principal Prison, and Ngoumou Principal Prison, and 37 affected families have benefitted from its magnanimity through the donation of food assistance, medication, psycho-social follow up and other basic necessities.
The Foundation has had to deal with five critical cases in Yaoundé. If some of the detainees in Yaounde are still alive today, it is by a stroke of luck. The first amongst these cases is Awah Thomas Junior, a journalist by profession, who was rushed to the Yaoundé Central Hospital in a critical state. After intensive care and strict follow up, he recovered and was taken back to prison, though he has been placed under constant medication, followed up by the Foundation.
Unity Foundation Cameroon also extended its goodwill gesture to critical cases such as Dzekushu Protus, who was partially paralyzed; Ajabe Felix; Ndengue John Marinus; and Bezeng Malvine hospitalized on November 25, 2019 at the Yaoundé Central Hospital. Just like him, the others were admitted to different health facilities in Yaounde for proper follow up, and they had fully recovered by the time they were discharged.
The cases mentioned above are just those that needed intensive and urgent medical attention by the time the Foundation was contacted. These do not include the routine purchase and supply of basic necessities to the prisoners in general, and drugs to sick and convalescing detainees in particular.
In line with the end-of-year festivities, Unity Foundation Cameroon in partnership with its partners has made it a tradition of donating foodstuffs and feasting with inmates, especially in the Yaounde Central Prison.
This project has, most of the times, been successfully executed thanks to the commitment of the members and volunteers of the Foundation. Nonetheless, UFC today benefits from the assistance of partners and donors such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Makongo Family and Charity (MAFAC), Cameroon Community in Berlin, Friends of Liberty in the United Kingdom, Society of Southern Cameroonians in Hampshire, Mezam Community in the US, Southern Cameroon Women in California, Cameroon Community in Israel and Asia, and the Manyu Health and Humanitarian Services. The “Save a life Project” is just one of many initiatives of Unity Foundation Cameroon aimed at reaching out to the needy and serving humanity.
Through the Safe a Life Project, the Foundation plans to reach out to at least 5000 detainees victims and conflict and disasters by 2025.