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The United States demanded an immediate end to violence in Cameroon on Thursday and a speedy start to talks between the government and Anglophone separatists without preconditions.

U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that security and humanitarian conditions in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions “have significantly deteriorated.”

October was the most violent month on record in recent years — and November is likely to surpass it, he said.

Hundreds have been killed in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in months of fighting between the military and separatists who claim they are marginalized in the largely French-speaking country.

“The violence must stop now,” Cohen said. “The United States calls for an immediate and broad-based reconciliatory dialogue, without preconditions. … We urge all sides to foreswear violence, to restore peace, and to resolve their grievances through political dialogue.”

He said the escalating violence is obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid to over 430,000 internally displaced people as well as education and health access to children in rural areas.

Reena Ghelani, director of U.N. humanitarian operations, warned that Cameroon is “one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa,” saying that in addition to those who have fled their homes and remain in the country over 30,000 Cameroonians have crossed the border into Nigeria seeking refuge.

The majority of internally displaced Cameroonians “are hiding in dense forests, without adequate shelter and lacking food, water and basic services,” Ghelani said. “Schools and markets are also disrupted and there are alarming health needs.”

“We note with great concern the deteriorating situation with respect to the protection of civilians, including reported killings, burning of homes and villages, extortion and kidnappings in the South West and North West regions of Cameroon,” she said, adding that there have been multiple attacks on schools and threats to students and teachers.

British deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen said the United Kingdom takes Ghelani’s warning very seriously and announced a $3.1 million contribution from the government to the U.N. appeal for the Anglophone regions to address immediate humanitarian and medical needs.

This represents 20 percent of the U.N. appeal, he said, urging other countries to contribute.

Both Allen and Cohen stressed Cameroon’s important role in fighting against the Boko Haram group and other Islamic State extremists.

Cohen noted Cameroon President Paul Biya expressed confidence in his inaugural address on Nov. 6 that “there is an honorable way out in everyone’s interest.”

The United States encourages Biya “to make good on his commitment to accelerate the decentralization process” and implement recommendations of a Cameroonian commission on bilingualism and multiculturalism, Cohen said.

Allen said that “words alone will not improve things” and strongly urged Cameroon’s government to take urgent action to start a dialogue, undertake confidence-building measures, allow humanitarian access throughout the country, and ensure “accountability for all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.”

Source: Foxnews

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The top U.S. diplomat in Africa says the Southern Cameroons could get much worse, saying “the last thing we need” is growing radicalization in response to the actions of security forces.

Tibor Nagy told reporters on Thursday that the situation in the Central African nation is worsening by the day and “worrying me greatly.”

He said the United States calls for dialogue between Cameroon’s government and the Anglophone separatists who sprang up from peaceful protests against the alleged marginalization of English-speakers in the largely Francophone country.

Nagy said he is reminded of neighboring Nigeria, where the government’s “brutal response” to extremism led to growing membership in Boko Haram.

The U.S. diplomat suggested “some form of decentralization” in Cameroon as mentioned in a proposed constitution for the country.

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Source: foxnews

 

As Cameroon-watchers await the official results of this month’s elections amid court challenges, the outcome is highly predictable—victories for the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and for the long-serving incumbent president, eighty-five-year-old Paul Biya. But the country’s future is utterly uncertain. It is as though Cameroon’s story is diverging in two radically different directions: one in which past is prologue and citizens and external partners find comfort in familiar faces and continuity; and another in which security is elusive, disintegration persists, and Cameroon becomes unrecognizable to those who knew it before.

The October 7 elections were held against a backdrop of increasing instability as the state battles both Boko Haram in the north and Anglophone separatists in the west. Alarmed by reports of horrific extrajudicial killings, and by the displacement of roughly a quarter of a million people, some of Cameroon’s external partners, including the United States, are grappling with tough questions about the wisdom of ongoing security assistance and cooperation. In some areas, voters were too worried about their immediate security to go to the polls. Others have lost faith in the legitimacy of the exercise, and some of the government’s choices, like its embrace of international observers of dubious credibility, suggest there is indeed reason to doubt the integrity of the process.

Those who value a stable partner in Cameroon over the long run should be interested in supporting a third possibility beyond an unsustainable status quo and a descent into chaos—one in which reforms create a more inclusive society, generational change refreshes the ranks of leadership, those responsible for abuse are held accountable for their crimes, and the connective tissue between government and citizens is strengthened by far more than pro forma electoral exercises. Right now, this third path is far more fantasy than reality. It will take a recognition that these election results settle none of Cameroon’s outstanding questions, and strong internal and external support for real political dialogue, to create space for a better future.

Author: Michelle D. Gavin

Source: cfr.org

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