The Anglophone Crisis which started in late October 2016 with strike actions that turned sour escalating to massive protest and most recently, signs of a civil war which is building up between the Cameroon military and armed separatist groups seeking separation (Secession) from Cameroon. From basic Political and Socio-Economic demands by teachers and lawyers trade unions for an end to marginalization and better living conditions, the crisis has reignited in the minds of the anglophone population who occupy the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, the determination to seek for total restoration of their statehood status as was in 1961.
The crisis which has seen a full-scale war scenario and clashes between the Cameroon military and armed separatist groups acting in self-defense of the communities has turned deadly attracting both National and International attention. With both parties unable to chat a way forward for genuine and meaningful dialogue that could see life returning to normalcy in the restive North-West and South-West regions, human right abuses have called for international action. There has been a record number of about 1800 deaths, civilian casualties including women and children, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape, restriction of movements, burning of private and public buildings, restricted access to hospitals and schools, arrest and unlawful trials as stated in the U.N Secretary General’s Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) report number s/2018/1065.
While the human right watch accuses the Cameroon military of wanton burning of property and civilian killings, the ”School Boycott policy” of the separatist movement with the current leadership in the diaspora are seen to be responsible for the number of children without access to schooling for the past 3 years since the beginning of the crisis.
An estimated 560,000 Southern Cameroonians have been driven from their homes due to constant clashes between the military and separatist movement, 32, 000 refugees currently in Nigeria, 530, 000 IDPs scattered all over the remaining 8 regions in Cameroon, which warrants the need for urgent intervention. Even though UNOCA beliefs Cameroon has made immense steps to solving the humanitarian crisis, there seems to be yet no signs to an immediate end as dialogue remains far fetch.
Mixed reactions have been witnessed from both parties involved from the beginning of May when news of a U.N Security Council Arria-formula meeting circulated online stipulating a formal discussion on the Human Rights situation in Cameroon, scheduled for hearing on Monday 13th May 2013. On the part of the separatist movement, this meeting which is organized by the Dominican Republic, Germany, the U.K, and the U.S has raise hopes for international action to be taken as measures to seek genuine solutions the grassroots problems of this crisis.
Also to be present are panelists like the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, and Esther Omam Njomo, the Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon which is a local NGO that focuses on underprivileged groups in Cameroon. Council members too are invited to speak, other member states, permanent observers and NGOs may attend and request to speak.
With the impact of the crisis causing Cameroon to rank the 6th country with the largest number of displaced persons in the world, 3 million people food insecure and an estimated 1.5 million people in need of urgent health assistance, there is, therefore, the need for the council to raise some level of awareness to the international community while seeking for necessary steps for humanitarian response like the protection of the vulnerable population.
On the contrary, the Cameroon Government in an attempt to show good faith and efforts in resolving the crisis through its governmental structures engaged in a premature dialogue through its newly appointed Prime Minister Chief Dr. Dion Ngute. Taking the anglophone population by surprise Minister Dion Ngute representing the Cameroon Head of State Paul Biya announced that the President was now ready to dialogue provided ”Secession” was off the table.
Taking to his twitter account in the suppose ”Meet the people tour” to the North-West region, P.M Dion Ngute took to his twitter account to announce that the process of dialogue was ongoing. A move which has attracted widespread condemnation of hypocrisy and bad faith on the part of the government who against all international bodies wants to negotiate with pre-conditions and with parties that seemingly do not speak for the people. As Southern Cameroonians turn their attention away from the tour of the P.M who heads further to the towns of Buea, Limbe, and Kumba for same dialogue talks with stakeholders, Southern Cameroonians are glued to all news channels and online portals for the outcome of the U.N Security Council’s Informal session.
While Southern Cameroonians in New York seize the moment to influence discussions in their favor by organizing a protest outside the U.N building today 13th May 2019, President Paul Biya of Cameroon in his latest twitter war took to his handle stating ” What matters most, what is essential, is the unity of Cameroon. In Cameroon, there is neither a tribe of rulers nor a tribe of subjects. There is one power: the power of the Cameroonian people.” At the time of writing this report, Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations as Mimi Mefo Info report captions a press release where the Minister ”Jumps on a rescue mission to deny the holding of an informal session on Cameroon.” see the extended report on MM info here: http://tiny.cc/jg9m6y.
However, a few hours to the beginning of sessions at the U.N, Human Rights watch shines a spotlight on the ongoing war in Cameroon which he blames on both the Cameroon military and the separatist armed groups respectively. The international NGO asked the U.N Security Council to call the Cameroon Government to order in an effort to end the abuses against the anglophone population while holding those responsible to account for their actions. Pointing fingers directly at the Cameroon military, Human Right Watch highlighted to the Council that government forces in Cameroon have killed many civilians, burned homes, tortured, arrested and kept many people including some prominent leaders incommunicado for months with unfair trial procedures.
lewis Mudge, Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch said, ” This meeting is to remind abusers that the world is watching.” This being their first official strong outing on Cameroon, they also called on the council to petition Cameroon’s Government to grant rights organizations access into Cameroon to carry out human rights investigations caused by both parties.
As we wait for the final decisions coming from today’s session, and following the recent visit of U.N Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet to Cameroon, one can only wonder if the international community is finally coming in to restore order and set a neutral platform for negotiations without any pre-conditions on the grassroots problems of this crisis. Until then the world is still watching.