Anglophone crisis in Cameroon continues to deteriorate five years on

On Thursday, 14 October, a five-year-old girl was killed on her way to school at a checkpoint in Buea, the capital of the Anglophone south-west region of Cameroon, when a gendarme allegedly fired warning shots at the vehicle she was traveling in.  Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest and carried the body of the girl to the governor’s office.  This incident is part of a pattern of increased militarization and intimidation against the Anglophone minority in the north-west and south-west regions by the Francophone-dominated government.

The conflict over cultural rights and marginalization in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions began five years ago in October 2016.  Since then, over 4,000 civilians have been killed and more than 780,000 have been displaced.  Clashes between government forces and armed separatist groups have resulted in atrocities, including extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture.  There has also been widespread destruction of villages, schools and hospitals throughout the north-west and south-west regions.  Both sides of the conflict have been accused of grave violations and abuses of human rights. Since the beginning of this year, the government has intensified its attacks against armed separatist strongholds in an attempt to end the conflict.  Armed separatists have retaliated by using more deadly weapons, including improvised explosive devices and anti-tank rocket launchers.

Amidst the conflict, populations are often denied access to basic services, while aid workers are routinely attacked or kidnapped.  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 1.1 million people are severely food insecure in the north-west and south-west regions. Juliette Paauwe, Senior Research Analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said that, “while only certain incidents make the international news, populations in the Anglophone regions live in constant fear of atrocities.  Without effective action, the conflict will only escalate further. The African Union’s Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council should urgently help facilitate a ceasefire and inclusive dialogue between the government and separatist groups, mediated by a neutral player on neutral territory.”

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) is an independent organization that focuses on conducting research analysis and advocacy in relation to mass atrocity.

Editorial Analysis

Lunga Dweba – South Africa

It is vital to note that the Francophone-dominated government’s growing militarisation and intimidation of the Anglophone minority in the north-west and south-west areas of Cameroon, implies that crimes are perpetrated by Africans against other Africans.  This is not to say that a confrontation between persons of different ethnic backgrounds and origins would be appropriate.  It is more of a wake-up call to the realities of self-hatred.

Africans often take solace in blaming the Western world for their problems in the past and present.  These truths are undeniable, as they are at the foundation of the vast majority of the difficulties that Africans experience.  As we previously stated in one of our editorials, Kwame Nkrumah acknowledged that Europeans dominated the African continent for self-serving reasons.

Former colonial powers were exhorted by Nkrumah to show goodwill and help in redressing past mistakes and injustices (Dweba, 2021).  He did not, however, miss an opportunity to emphasise the need to bury the past with its terrible memories and look to the future in order to discover African solutions to African challenges (Nkrumah, 1961).  This is understood to be political hyperbole, while the atrocity alert stresses the importance of the R2P Principle.  Politics and violent conflict are inextricably linked, as the theory goes: “war is the ultimate failure of politics.”

Al Jazeera

Of importance is the realisation that using force to resolve conflicts has never succeeded in human history.  Equally, when dialogues are facilitated in bad faith, they tend to stall.  That means Juliette Paauwe’s request for the AU’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) to assist an immediate ceasefire and inclusive discussion will only be achieved if all parties participate in good faith rather than greed.

The GI ADVISORY is a research-based security firm, whose primary purpose is to contribute to safer communities and world order.

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