Aid and infrastructure projects in Cameroon's Far North region have been suspended due to high levels of insecurity caused by the Islamist group Boko Haram, reports AlertNet, a branch of the Thompson Reuters Foundation.
While the Boko Haram is based in northern Nigeria, the group’s impact is felt in a number of countries that border the region, including Cameroon.
With much relief and development work by the government and international organizations to help protect people from climate impacts now on hold, living conditions are becoming precarious for the Far North's impoverished population ahead of the rainy season in the coming months.
On a visit to the area last month, Cameroon's minister of communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakari, said local people and the authorities are paying the cost of cross-border Boko Haram attacks and abductions, which have led to an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.
Boko Haram, which evolved from a clerical movement, is fighting for an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria. The insurgents' behavior - especially killing civilians and kidnapping girls - has provoked international condemnation.
The Cameroon government has increased its military presence in the region near the group's base in northern Nigeria, to protect people from Boko Haram's violence. Its activities in Cameroon are thought to be motivated by the prospect of financial gain from ransom demands, the minister said.
The group is thought to be behind the kidnappings of a French family, three foreign priests and a nun in the past 18 months, with Reuters having seen evidence that a ransom of over $3 million U.S. dollars was reportedly paid to Boko Haram to free the family of seven.
"The attacks and killing of innocent persons in the Far North region are a serious cause for concern. People can no longer go about their activities as before, while many development activities in the region have been temporarily halted for fear of being ambushed," Bakari said.
"This is really dangerous because we all know how vulnerable this region is, plagued with high malnutrition and poverty due to its extreme climate," he added.
Cherif Musa, a local council worker in Maroua, told Thomson Reuters Foundation people have become wary of staying out late due to the risk of attacks. Bars are shut after 9pm and gatherings after that time are banned, he added.