What is the East Region of Cameroon? It is one of the largest regions, yet the least populated (about one million for the entire region). It is primarily rural, with few urban centres. It is a mix of many different tribes and shares many qualities (language, ethnicity, religion, history) with bordering regions of DRC and Central African Republic.
While not directly related to my research, hundreds of thousands (UNHCR estimates about 300,000) refugees from Central African Republic have forcibly moved to eastern Cameroon since about 2003. There were two coups in CAR (one in 2003-2008; the other 2013-present) that provoked these refugees. Most of them have remained in East Region, with about 70% in urban and rural villages, and the remainder in refugee camps (called “sites”).
I previously worked in CAR (in 2007). I was not aware of the historical and social connections between East Cameroon and CAR. About 55% of the refugees from CAR are Mbororo – members of the same group with whom I’m working. To give further context to the East Region, I’m including a snippet from a great paper that just came out (cited at the end):
Source: Barbelet, Veronique. 2017. Livelihood strategies of Central African refugees in Cameroon. HPG Working Paper.