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The Embassy of the United States of America in Cameroon has once again warned its citizens to avoid the troubled English-speaking regions of the country where security forces have been clashing with armed separatist fighters.

The conflict that has left several persons internally displaces and many fleeing to neighboring Nigeria as many persons have equally lost their lives.

“The level of violence in the Southwest and Northwest Regions continues to increase.   In recent weeks, U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes in both regions. Due to the violence, many medical facilities in these areas are reported to be closed, inaccessible, or severely understaffed,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

“All but mission-essential travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to these regions is prohibited:  our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these areas is extremely limited,” the statement added.

The US Embassy in Cameroon had equally cautioned its citizens to take various security measures when moving around in the capital Yaounde following news of waves of mass arrests conducted by security forces.

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Source: journalducameroun.com

 

In Summary

  • Father Cosmas Ondari died on November 21 at Mamfe Parish.
  • His death shone the light on the rising number of religious leaders killed amid a conflict that has lasted two-years and gripped the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
  • The ministry has promised the Church and the public that the ministry will not abandon its commitment to the wellbeing of Kenyans everywhere.

The Kenyan government, through its High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, has made a formal inquiry into the death of a Kenyan priest in Cameroon.

Father Cosmas Ondari died on November 21 at Mamfe Parish. There were claims that he was killed by government soldiers.

RELENTLESS

In a statement dated November 24, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said the inquiry is being treated as urgent.

“As we mourn the death of one of our citizens, the ministry continues to relentlessly pursue answers on this sad event,” Mr Macharia said.

He promised the Church and the public that the ministry will not abandon its commitment to the wellbeing of Kenyans everywhere.

“We encourage out nationals to remain vigilant, especially in areas where security cannot be guaranteed,” PS Macharia said.

The ministry condoled with Father Ondari’s colleagues, family, and friends.

SEVERAL KILLINGS

Fr Ondari’s death shone the light on the rising number of religious leaders killed amid a conflict that has lasted two-years and gripped the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The priest had been working with people displaced by the conflict.

An American Catholic missionary was killed at the beginning of November in the Northeast region. The government blamed separatists but Washington said he died in cross-fire.

Last October, US Baptist Missionary Charles Truman Wesco was killed in the Northwestern town of Bambui near Bamenda.

A Roman Catholic priest, Fr Alexander Nougi Sob, was killed in the Southwestern town of Muyuka in July.

Author: By NATION REPORTER

Source:  nation.co.ke

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Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians are currently in asylum in Nigeria — they are located in Cross River, Benue and Taraba states. Many more are still coming as the government of President Paul Biya clamps down on Southern Cameroon dissidents who are agitating for Ambazonia Republic. In Nigeria where those who fled the country are seeking asylum, they have not found solace as they live in constant fear of arrest, extortion and deportation as revealed in this report. 

Living on the edge

AKUME Joshua has mixed feelings about the safety of his family in Nigeria despite running away from President Paul Biya’s troops on December 18, 2017.

In Calabar, Cross River State where he lives in the asylum with his wife and son, the fear of an imminent arrest and repatriation to Cameroon hunts him every night. A supermarket owner back in Southern Cameroon, Joshua lost his grocery store to the crisis and now go for a scrounge in Nigeria.

Since October 1, 2017, when fighting broke out in the Anglophone Cameroon, where the English speaking minority declared independence from Francophone Cameroon, under the name Ambazonia Republic, more and more Southern Cameroonians have fled the country, seeking asylum in Nigeria.

Roughly 20 per cent of the country’s population of 24.6 million people are Anglophone.

Attacks and raids on villages in Southern Cameroon by government armies have intensified since after election when 85-year-old President Paul Biya won another re-election—his seventh term in office.

There has been an air of uncertainty among the people. On June 10, when refugees filed out for food distribution at Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) office in Calabar,  a letter from the Cameroon Consular addressed the director general of the agency asking that the refugees be arrested because they are not refugees but terrorists, and should be arrested and send back to Cameroon. “When this information got to us we were afraid, there was panic among us,” he says.

This has kept Joshua and his countrymen in constant fear. The matter became worse when Nigerian security operatives restricted the movement of refugees within the country despite an Identity Card issued by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Refugees, he says, are now veritable means of extortion for the security operatives.

“Freedom of movement of refugees has been a problem- we can’t move from town to town freely. Even with your yellow card, certificate of asylum issued by the National Commission for Refugees they still stop them and tell them that they are not supposed to move within the country. Most time they extort money from them – sometimes, people pay as much as N30, 000,” he says.

A Protection Officer at UNHCR office in Calabar who admitted there have been reports of such arrests and extortion says that the agency is holding series of meetings with the police authorities, Immigration and the Nigerian Army “so that they can recognize the ID card issued by the Refugee Commission.”

“I just had a meeting with the State Commissioner of Police on those matters and we are also working with the Immigration and the Army over it,” he said.

The allegation is not a one-off experience—seven Southern Cameroonians who just escaped into Calabar were arrested by men of 13 Brigade of Nigerian Army. But for the intervention of the Refugee Agency they were released, Joshua said.

He says the seven were suspected to be Anglophone combatants, “because of their dressings.”

“The clothes they wearing were not very clean because they had travelled the bush for fear. When they got here, they didn’t have any other dress to change, they were looking dirty and they came in a group, so they thought they were combatant.”

Also, they allege that men of Nigerian Immigration Service also declined to recognize the Identity Card issued by the Refugee Commission.

“The Immigration intimidates us most often, they claim not to recognize us, sometimes we have to call the UNHCR staff,” Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagom Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja Local Government says.

But the refugees are unhappy that their plights have not received the attention it deserved from the international community and the media. Quite frankly too, talks about the crisis between Francophone and Anglophone Cameroons that has displaced more than 160,000 within Cameroon since 2016 have not gained prominence among world leaders.

Leaders of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Ogoja, Cross River State.
Photo Credit: YEKEEN Akinwale

Albor, a French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wonders why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor says.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

As the world keeps mum about the crisis, international media also appears to be looking the other side from the civil war. Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon laments that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam says.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

Over 30,000 Southern Cameroonians currently in Nigeria- figures still growing

On a daily basis, the population of Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria keeps increasing, Tunde Akinsanya, Calabar Zonal Director, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Person revealed.

The Commission registers refugees and issues them Identity Card, Onasanya says, and “the refugees keep coming as the crisis continues.”

Many more are running away from their homes as government forces keep arresting dissidents and setting villages ablaze especially after the election.

Data obtained from the office of UNHCR revealed that there were 23,620 refugees as of October 31 in Cross River State. Of these figures, 10,386 of them were male while 13,234 were female. While there were 333 births since January, the number of children among the refugees stood at 11,514.

By the middle of October, there were about 28,000 of the refugees registered by the Nigerian National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

However, as of early November, a top staff of the UNHCR who would not want his name mentioned revealed that the figured has gone up to 30,000.

Of the over 30,000 refugees, 5000 of them are currently at Adag0m Settlement in Ogoja and over 60 per cent of them are of school-age children- many of the children are those separated and unaccompanied. Those identified are kept with foster parents in the settlement, a UNHCR says.

“We have close to 28,000 registered refugees,” an official of the Nigerian Refugee Commission said, “but the registration is ongoing if we give you a figure today it may increase tomorrow.”

“This is not necessarily the true reflection of incoming, they are still coming. There are some who do come and do not report here but just settle in the nearby village,” says the official who also pleaded for anonymity.

We have been receiving people in terms of surge of refugees who keep coming to Nigeria, says a UNHCR Protection Officer in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State.

When will this end? Osany Juliet has been living in perpetual depression since gendarmes in 2017 killed her father and arrested her husband — he is kept in a prison in Buea, Cameroon.

October 7, 2017 —exactly 3 pm, a helicopter loaded with government troops landed in Daddi village in Akwaya, Manyu division, everyone in sight was shot at and killed, recalls Juliet, a mother of two.

Some days, she wonders if she will ever see her husband again, or if her life will ever remain the same without him. “Right now, I don’t know how he is doing, I know that the situation with him is not an easy one,” she says with wet eyes.

“My husband was arrested by the gendarmes on his way from the farm because he didn’t know what was happening in the village.”

On other days, she feels terrified by the memories of what has happened in her village and again, the recurring fears that the government may come after those of them under asylum in Nigeria

She is in Calabar where she hopes that life can again be better for her— though Juliet admits coping has been somewhat herculean with two kids and an elderly mother to cater for.

“Please if there is any way you can help me, please you do,” she appealed to the reporter.

Like Juliet, life is becoming more hopeless for Abunaw Lucy and her four kids. A look of anguish sweeps across her face at the thought of the fate of her husband whose whereabouts is unknown after he escaped arrest by government troops on June 9, 2017.

After two arrests and two detentions with her six-week-old baby, she escaped through a forest to Nigeria via Ikom, Cross River State.

Each time she was detained, Lucy spent between five and 10 hours in detention for two days when her husband could not be located. “I was arrested and detained for two days,” she says, “I wasn’t thrown into the cell because of the baby,” “I was kept on the veranda for two days under harsh conditions.”

Her baby ended up with a respiratory infection after those two days spent at the military detention facility. The couples and their children were living in Manfe, in Manyu, South West Region, but  Abunaw David, was on the targets list of the government for his involvement in the struggle for independence.

David was the spokesperson for Justice Ayah Paul Abine− a presidential candidate of the opposition party, People’s Action Party in 2011−arrested January 21, 2017, by gendarmes on an allegation of hostility against the nation.

But the mother of four is still uncomfortable despite being in Nigeria because, according to many Southern Cameroonian refugees, the Cameroonian Consular in Nigeria has designated them terrorists who should be handed over to the Cameroonian authority. There are claims of arbitrary arrests of refugees by Cameroonian forces. Every day, she wakes up with the fear of a possible arrest and extradition by Cameroonian government.

“I’m still afraid to attend meetings or interact for a long time and the fact that Cameroon Consular office is in Calabar which I know and convinced they are working with Cameroon government scares me more.”

“They may be sending spies to monitor refugees’ movement and activities so that they can arrest and extradite us,” she says as her voices cracks with fear.

Tears and hopelessnessAfter sleeping on a mat throughout the period of her pregnancy, 23-year-old Ata Jennifer − a Southern Cameroonian − finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy sometime mid-October at a hospital in Ogoja Local Government. “I slept on the mat until I gave birth,” she says.

With a three-week-old baby in a Refugee Settlement in Adagom, Ogoja and among  5,000 Southern Cameroonians being settled at the camp −the crisis back home casts a bleak shadow over her future and that of her newborn.

For her, it was by providence that she gave birth to a healthy baby without complications− at the moment, most pregnant women among the refugees did not have access to an ante-natal clinic during pregnancy –and living conditions at the settlement made the prospect of any easy delivery doubtful.

But Jennifer was lucky; she and her baby are healthy, though help from the United Agency for Refugee, UNHCR did not get to her when she was in labour pains and eventually delivered of a baby at a hospital.

She couldn’t get a mattress from the agency, because, “mattress is given based on the family size,” an official of the UNHCR said. “It’s one mattress per a family of five and below, the rest are mats.”

With her baby and her younger sister, she shares a tent furnished with a mat and a blanket. Her shelter is among the 140 just constructed by UNHCR.

The young mother was writing a final Advanced Level examination to proceed to the university when she and her family fled their home.

After a perilous journey through forest and river, Jennifer in early stage pregnancy made it to Nigeria on November 17, 2017 – her father was not so lucky— he died in the forest of shock — the second day of their escape from home. With the help of fishermen, she alongside her mother and sister sailed safely to Nigeria. “It was very critical running with pregnancy, but I had to manage because there was no option,” she said of her ordeals running to Nigeria particularly with pregnancy.

“We had to run to the bush at that night. We slept there that night. Four of us, my father, mum and my sister- it was heavily raining. The next day we tried running to cross the border area but we could not make it. I was pregnant then. The next day, I lost my father.”

Suckling her three-week-old son in front of a temporary shelter provided by the UNHCR, Jennifer speaks of how her father was declared wanted by the Biya-led government and how critical it was for her running with pregnancy from the gendarmes.

At Umojok in Southern Cameroon, her father was accused by the Francophone Cameroonian government of fortifying young boys with a local gun proof called “Odeshi.”

Amidst sobs, she says the accusation against her late father was unfounded.

“Odeshi is a secret cult whereby boys put marks on their body, it is called gun proof. That was what I heard which was a lie; my father did not do such a thing,” the 23-year-old Jennifer said.

For her and her baby, surviving in a refugee camp has been very challenging. Often, passersby offer her money to eat and take care of her baby because the relief package from the Refugee Agency did not get to her.

At Adagom, there were 15 deliveries in the last two months, but some of the babies died, during after delivery due to poor health care services at the settlement, says Albor who lives at the settlement.

There are other new arrivals who are pregnant and without tents yet. “They sleep in the hall and they eventually deliver, we have some cases of them. They are forced to sleep on the floor together with their newborn babies,”Albor says.

Birthrate at the settlement is overwhelming the refugee Agency−it has stopped distribution of baby kits to nursing mothers because there is a shortfall in the supply. The leadership of the refugees revealed that the Agency no longer distribute baby needs to nursing mothers in the settlement.

“When a woman is pregnant, they no longer care to say take these baby kits, not even one single thing.”

“It’s something I cannot actually explain, but when we questioned them, they said, the provision is not there and sometimes, they said the birth rate is too high, they don’t encourage such situation within the settlement.”

Save the children, an organization that focuses on child Protection, child poverty, education, health (WASH) & nutrition), was involved in the provision of baby kits for pregnant women and nursing mothers among the refugees−but has not resumed such gesture since refugees moved to Adagan Settlement in Ogoja. What was provided by the Southern Cameroonians in the Diaspora at the inception of the settlement is also exhausted.

Author:  

Source: icirnigeria.org

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The Southern Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria have accused the international community and the African Union (AU) of not doing enough to proffer political solution to the crisis going on between Anglophone Cameroon and the Francophone side led by President Paul Biya.

The aggrieved refugees also carpeted international media for under-reporting their plights since October 1, 2017, when a crisis erupted between the Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon after the formerly declared independence.

Ako Albor, Vice Chairman of Southern Cameroonian Refugees in Adagan Refugees Resettlement, Ogoja, Cross River State, lamented that the international community has been ‘dormant’ on their matter.

Albor, French- English Translator from Manyu Division of Southern Cameroon wondered why “nobody in the international community is talking about their plights.”

“I think Paul Biya has a very strong Mafia among the AU and they are doing everything in his favour.”

He said that AU, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and other countries were supposed to be the first stakeholders in their matter but have done little or nothing to resolve the crisis.

Nigeria government should do more in resolving the crisis, Albor said, “Nigeria and Southern Cameroon people have a long history together. Nigeria cannot be indifferent in this case.”

He said Nigeria should be the first to stand openly with Southern Cameroons, adding that Nigeria should not shy away from speaking the truth.

According to him, the recent victory of Paul Biya in the general election dashed their hope of any quick resolution of the crisis.

“We thought the opposition would win the election because that would have offered some hope of dialogue and perhaps a settlement.”

The return of Biya has led to more clamp down in the country− his immediate actions show that he is not working towards any immediate resolution, Albor said.

“Last night, a journalist was arrested and those that are in detention, we don’t know what he plans to do with them.”

Ignatius Mezam, a teacher in Southern Cameroon lamented that international media such as the Cable Network News (CNN) and Aljazeera have not given their crisis the required attention.

“When you look at other revolutions going on across the world, they are prominent in the news, but you don’t hear about Southern Cameroon issue,” Mezam said.

“The CNN, Aljazeera have not given it prominence in their reportage, is it because we are black. The battle is only fought on the Facebook by Facebook warriors.”

War broke out between Biya-led government and Southern Cameroonians after the latter on October 1, 2017, though a minority, declared independence under the name Ambazonia Republic.

Tens of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have fled the country in the wake of the clampdown by the Francophone Cameroonian government.

Over 30,000 of them are currently under asylum in Nigeria− Cross River, Benue and Taraba state, according to National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR.

Source: icirnigeria.org

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World democracies, global organizations and the world’s biggest media outlets have either maintained criminal silence or opted for a shockingly high level of hypocrisy on the 36-year-old tyranny of Paul Biya, 85, in the Cameroons.

For instance, whereas the West has chased leaders of Biya’s ilk from power under similar conditions in Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, The Gambia and Zimbabwe, excuses are made to roll out the carpet for Biya.

On November 6, the 36th anniversary of Biya’s first inauguration as president in November 1982, the ruthless dictator was sworn in for yet another seven-year term. Biya’s longevity in power would have been impossible without the West, notably France, looking the other way.

Often seen, on account of its unpopularity, as being on political life support, Biya’s regime has survived on the back of brutish repression, state terrorism, constitutional coups, massive vote rigging and election hold-ups.

Biya is the civilian façade of a clan-based de facto military regime. It thrives on divide-and-rule and fuelling the many fractious factions of the opposition.

It is a regime that pays lip service to majority rule but survives on minority rule through its rejection of election run-offs.

It dismisses remedies that could be offered by vote recounts.

It professes faith in the infallibility of decisions handed down by Biya’s hand-picked Constitutional Council, the supreme authority on the bankrupt electoral system that the regime counts on to cling on to power.

But, if you arrived on earth today from Mars, you would be forgiven for concluding – based on global media coverage of the Cameroons recently- that the most important challenge facing this two-in-one failing or failed nation founded in 1961 is the kidnapping of 81 students and their teachers. It is not.

Yet, it is the only story that every single one of the world’s leading wire services (AP, Reuters, AFP, etc.) and broadcast outlets (CNN, BBC, VOA, RFI, DW, etc.) have bothered to cover extensively.

They have done so despite the shallow nature of the facts and holes in the story.

When the dust settles, world media may be able to admit that the Biya regime played political Drama Queen on this incident, leading the world and world media by the nose.

In a hurry to have the scoop on a story that they sensed has global appeal and front-page staying power, reporters created a storm in a teacup.

Their reporting embarrassed audiences around the globe with poorly sourced, hardly fact-checked, wildly distorted, misleading and inaccurate accounts of the kidnappings.

Western capitals took the bait, expressing concern and calling for the immediate release and safe return of the kidnapped students.

None expressed concern over why an officer of Cameroon’s army was unmasked in photos as the lead kidnapper.

Acting urgently, as Western capitals did is understandable.

There is, indeed, no higher priority than to seek resolution of a crisis.

However, on these kidnappings and even before all the details are known, one thing is clear.

The kidnapping of the 81 students and teachers looks increasingly like a sadistic prank by the Biya regime.

It was aimed, ostensibly, at reenacting the April 2014 kidnapping by Boko Haram Islamic extremists of 276 Chibok Girls in Nigeria’s Borno State.

It is the kind of fabrication the regime has been desperate to find to mobilize world support for listing the pro-independence campaign as a terrorist movement.

It is the kind of crisis every tyrant prays for when they need to divert world attention from real challenges.

Like a deer in the headlights, Western powers and Western media houses are caught in the regime’s self-incriminating web of lies, endless political spin, and pure propaganda. How else?

If Western democracies were not just going along with the regime’s poorly masked campaign of demonization of pro-independence campaigners in Ambazonia, one would have expected them to show the same level of concern for other vulnerable citizens.

For example, hundreds of thousands of Ambazonian children – most of them far younger and more vulnerable than the students kidnapped – now live in the wild (in bushes, farmlands and forests).

It is the only choice they have if they want to survive the brutish French-speaking troops whose occupation of Ambazonia has led, among others, to the looting and burning to the ground of over 140 villages.

As a result of scorched earth practices in blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions, more than 100,000 people have fled into exile or refugee camps mostly in neighboring Nigeria

Victims of these horrendous abuses cannot be blamed for doubting that the West truly believes in the sanctity of life – for all.

The congratulatory messages to Biya after he staged another election theft in broad daylight has many doubting the commitment of the West for democracy, human rights and the rule of law for citizens of the Cameroons.

Especially because both London and Washington, DC, congratulated the “election thief” way ahead of countries like North Korea and China.

France’s ownership of the natural resources of the Cameroons in keeping with a pre-independence accord signed on 26 December 1959 and Britain’s preoccupation with sealing oil and gas deals suggest that the West cares more for pay-to-play deals than for the welfare of Ambazonians.

The hypocrisy is blatant.

France’s foreign minister played Pontus Pilatus when reporters asked whether or not Cameroon’s most recent presidential elections were free and fair.

Paris hid behind the very convenient, but utterly false, claim that France respects Cameroon’s so-called sovereignty.

Speaking of which – where else did the West evoke national sovereignty in a crisis they were interested in preventing or ending?

Under the “Responsibility to Protect” principle adopted by the United Nations in 2005, the West can – if it truly cares – intervene unilaterally in Ambazonia to put an end to an unjustified war against the English-speaking people of Ambazonia who, overwhelmingly, favor peaceful separation from recolonization by Cameroon.

While the world has looked away, thousands of pro-independence campaigners have been massacred, injured or “disappeared” in one of the world’s most under-reported war and humanitarian crisis.

The number of the internally displaced is probably north of a million people.

It is genocide – a crime of intention.

French-speaking troops are targeting and slaughtering English-speaking citizens simply for insisting to be who they like to be: Ambazonians.

No students – or anyone else for that matter – should suffer kidnappings.

The prank this week would have been avoided had Western democracies not shown the kind of indifference, criminal silence and outright failure that has been promoted as policy at global organizations like the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Their job, at all times, should have been to call out regimes like Biya’s. Sadly, the leaders of the United Nations and the Commonwealth have bothered more about being on good terms with a tyrant who lavishes them with gifts of gold than uphold resolutions adopted by and still pending full implementation by the institutions they lead – if such could be called leadership.

As with the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the massacres in Bosnia in 1995, there is no excuse for Western democracies doing nothing to end the carnage in Ambazonia.

Especially because the Biya regime has telephoned their every move and has lived up to every one of those sadistic pledges.

For example, from the very beginning of the war against Ambazonia, the regime committed officially that its troops will target civilians indiscriminately – in other words, that their troops will commit war crimes.

The only adjustment that has been made to that policy has been the regime calling on its troops to stop documenting their atrocity crimes and crimes against humanity on video, posted on social media.

Biya’s minister of territorial administration promised, from the onset of the war, that their troops will treat – sorry, mistreat – Ambazonians worse than Boko Haram terrorists.

The regime has delivered on that promise.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the war against Ambazonia has been more deadly than the counter-terrorism campaign Cameroon is waging against Boko Haram in the northern regions of that country.

Facts don’t lie. Western democracies, global organizations and the Western media are proving, shamefully, that they held former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to a different standard than they are willing to hold the Biya regime.

America readily approved support for rebels who formed a never-before-known state in Benghazi in defiance of the central authority of ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, but Washington is unwilling even to uphold America’s YES vote – along with 63 other countries on the floor of the United Nations on 21st April 1961 – in favor of independence for Ambazonia (then known as Southern Cameroons).

The West evoked Responsibility to Protect as soon as the Gaddafi regime promised “rivers of blood”.

Yet, the same Western democracies are sitting on their hands even as the Biya regime not only promises but is actually spilling “oceans of blood” in Ambazonia.

The same United Nations which deployed Peacekeepers to arrest further descent into violence in a far less bloody civil war in Cote d’Ivoire has mouthed platitudes tantamount to giving Biya a pass even as his regime has prevented the deployment of human rights and humanitarian missions.

The same France, which, with support from America’s former president, Barack Obama, did not hesitate to lead a military invasion.

They dragged out of the presidential palace the former leader of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and installed the person the West believed was the rightful winner of the ballot in that country.

Now, they are burying their heads in the sands of so-called sovereignty of Cameroon.

Talk of hypocrisy!

Author: Boh Herbert Ntumfoyn Ntumfoyn

Source: taarifa.rw

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WASHINGTON – A coalition of African political organizers Tuesday offered advice on how to oust Cameroon President Paul Biya in preparation for next week’s official presidential election results, which Biya opponents suspect have already been manipulated to show a Biya landslide.

The results of the Oct. 7 election in Cameroon were leaked Monday, allegedly by the government, a week before the official announcement is to take place. The leak placed Biya, who has been president of Cameroon for 36 years, as the clear winner of the election. The opposition claimed his regime manipulated the numbers.

African liberation leaders from The Gambia and Libya, which have histories of successfully overthrowing dictators, met with the Cameroon Alliance for Coalition at the National Press Club to share strategies for mobilizing the opposition in country.

The opposition is fueled by crises all along the nation’s borders. Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist terrorist group, has extended beyond Nigeria into the northern region of Cameroon. The western part of the country is struggling to contain a growing secession movement led by the minority English-speaking population who says they are not treated fairly in the economy.

“Nothing is new on Earth. What is happening in Cameroon has happened in other countries, so we can learn from how they’ve handled it,” said the Cameroon Alliance for Coalition Founder Sylvie Qwasinwi Ngassa Bello.

Mosadeq Hobrara, a key player in the Arab Spring uprising that successfully overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, explained that social media like WhatsApp and Facebook were crucial components to their populist movement.

“Social media is dangerous for dictators. You can use it to overthrow them,” said Hobrara.

Fatu Camara, a Gambian journalist said, hashtags were used to organize the opposition that overthrew Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh in 2016. Camara and other opposition leadership used WhatsApp and Facebook to communicate directly outside of government control.

Both Camara and Hobrara emphasized the importance of outside help from friends and family who fled the country. Because of them, the Gambian opposition received phones with internet access. The Libyan diaspora stormed embassies across the world to bring global awareness to their struggle, he said.

Author: Bryan Wood 

Source: dc.medill.northwestern.edu

Silva Munuza was describing the deadly conflict back home in Cameroon to Cliff Jones, his pastor in Laurel Springs.

A 38-year-old accountant who lives in Clementon and has a young daughter, Munuza talked about the brutality of the security forces, the burning of villages, and of the dead. And then his voice broke.

“Silva couldn’t keep on speaking,” Jones recalled. “He knows people who have been killed.”

The effect on the pastor was profound.

“When I saw a brother in Christ break down four times in the space of five minutes,”  he said,  “I realized that we need to do something.”

That’s why St. Paul’s Presbyterian, a cozy church on a pretty street in small-town Camden County, is praying for Cameroon, a West African nation where six complicated decades of tension between the English-speaking minority and the French-speaking majority threaten to erupt into civil war.

The pastor, Munuza, and others in the church hope to educate the congregation and the public about the situation in that riven, faraway land, and are exploring other ways to help. A good number of the 200 people in the English-speaking Cameroonian community that has taken root in South Jersey during the last 20 years are Presbyterian, and belong to St. Paul’s.

Silva Munuza, center, who emigrated from Cameroon to the United States 10 years ago, prays during Sunday services at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Laurel Springs. Munuza is an elder at the church and is working to educate the congregation about the increasingly deadly political violence in his homeland.

JOSE F. MORENO: Silva Munuza, center, who emigrated from Cameroon to the United States 10 years ago, prays during Sunday services at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Laurel Springs. Munuza is an elder at the church and is working to educate the congregation about the increasingly deadly political violence in his homeland.

I met Munuza there during services on a recent Sunday, and later sat down with him and five other Cameroonians in Fellowship Hall at the church.

Until I started working on this column, pretty much all I’d known about Cameroon was that the Sixers’ amazing Joel Embiid is from there.  I’ve since been reading news stories online and watching YouTube clips about the turmoil, and I’ve seen some of the awful images — a man on his knees being beaten, a charred body in a ruined, roofless house, entire villages reduced to cinders — that have been widely disseminated on social media. I’ve also visited the website of the self-described “interim government” of an envisioned English-speaking, independent Cameroonian state to be called the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.

But nothing prepared me for the conversation around the table.

“My brother died on the spot, and a neighbor who was like a father to me had just left his home and also was killed,” said Ernest Awa, 40, a health-care worker who lives in Lindenwold. “I lost those two people,” he said softly.

Awa was describing the events of Sept. 1 in Pinyin, a village in the northwestern portion of the English-speaking part of the country, where many of the Cameroonians in South Jersey have family. Witnesses posted videos charging security forces the government claims are seeking to quell a separatist rebellion with shooting civilians at will.

“My cousin was killed the same day,” Munuza said. “He had special needs, and when everybody was running, he didn’t know what was happening. He was standing in front of his house, and they shot him.”

At the table, a young Cameroonian woman who lives in Camden County and asked not to be identified because she feared for her family’s safety said she hasn’t been able to reach her father back home for the last two weeks. He’s in his 70s and escaped an attack near Pinyin by hiding in the wilderness, she said.

“I don’t know when I will be able to go back there,” said Valerie Mouthchia, 45, a project manager who lives in Clementon. She has become an American citizen and said the U.S. should not support the government in Cameroon, which she said is responsible for human rights violations there.

The people around the table described the conflict as a colonial legacy made worse by the authoritarian rule of longtime francophone President Paul Biya. The results of a contentious Oct. 7 presidential election are expected to be made public Oct. 22, with some media in the country predicting Biya will win.

Despite the rising numbers of casualties, displaced persons, and refugees — thousands of Cameroonians have fled across the border into Nigeria — Americans generally know little about Cameroon or its escalating crisis.

Pastor Cliff Jones, right, greets Marcel Njighe, who’s originally from Cameroon, at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Laurel Springs. The congregation prays for Cameroon, which some observers describe as on the verge of civil war. Jones said the people in his flock also want to learn more about the situation, and to do more to help.JOSE F. MORENO: Pastor Cliff Jones, right, greets Marcel Njighe, who’s originally from Cameroon, at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Laurel Springs. The congregation prays for Cameroon, which some observers describe as on the verge of civil war. Jones said the people in his flock also want to learn more about the situation, and to do more to help.

Nevertheless, “Americans can become more aware,” Munuza said. “They can call their representatives. They can tweet. They can call for an end to the genocide.”

I asked the pastor of St. Paul’s how even a faith-filled, 360-member-strong congregation could realistically expect to have an impact on a complicated human tragedy so far away.

“For us, prayer is important,” Jones said. “Knowing people who are going through this, whose immediate family members have been killed, brings this to a much more personal level. We need to do something, and not just in words.”

Author: Kevin Riordan 

Source: www2.philly.com

As Cameroon heads to elections, experts warn of the fallout from an ongoing separatist crisis in the Anglophone regions.

by Eromo Egbejule

WHAT IS THE ANGLOPHONE CRISIS?

  • Bilingual Cameroon, a union of two parts colonised separately by the British and the French, has long had a fragile harmony.
  • In 2016, the fissures grew larger as the Anglophone minority, protesting the imposition of French systems in the courts and schools were attacked, triggering a war between the government and separatists.

Yaounde, Cameroon – Last October, Fred Assam watched from his hiding place as government soldiers spoon-fed acid to the village chief’s son.

The 24-year-old knew it was time to flee his homeland.

He escaped his village of Mbenyan in southwest Cameroon with a small bag of clothes, abandoning the life he knew behind to the safety of neighbouring Nigeria.

“The soldiers were shooting everyone they saw,” he says from Agbokim, in southern Nigeria. “They killed so many young people in Mbenyan and other villages across the Anglophone regions.”

Assam is one of over 30,000 Cameroonians – including his parents with whom he reunited three months ago – from the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of the country who now live in refugee camps and settlements in southern Nigeria.

Discrepancies between the French and English academic, legal and administrative systems which have always existed concurrently, as well as cries of political and economic marginalisation, crystallised into a series of protests and riots in 2016.

That soon turned bloody as the government, in a bid to quell dissent, first ordered a three-month internet shutdown and deployed soldiers.

In January, separatists including Julius Tabe, the leader of the interim government of “Ambazonia” – the self-declared state consisting of the Anglophone regions – were arrested in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on charges of terrorism.

Back in Cameroon, young untrained fighters are embroiled in a battle with government soldiers, countering sophisticated weaponry with homemade guns, machetes and charms called “odeshi” to make them invisible and invincible.

Trapped in the middle of all this are the estimated 17 million Anglophone Cameroonians who form roughly one-fifth of the population.

I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents. There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.

AGBOR NKONGHO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA

Local groups say the number of people displaced from both regions has doubled to around 200,000 people over the last month and there are about 50,000 refugees in Nigeria.

The International Crisis Group, which says the international reaction has been muted, estimates that at least 2,000 people have died in the conflict, with another 170,000 displaced.

An unknown number of people are also sleeping in open forests in the absence of formal camps. There is a shortage of toilets and proper hygienic conditions for menstruating girls and women in the informal host communities.

Still, the country is pressing on towards an election on Sunday, as incumbent President Paul Biya seeks a seventh term in office.

Meanwhile, the government is headstrong about hosting a continental football competition next January despite the Anglophone crisis.

Observers and civil society leaders are worried about the government’s preoccupation with holding the elections and believe it is an attempt to paper over the cracks and present a united front to the international community.

“The reason I’m not contesting in this election is because of the current security situation,” says Kah Wallah, leader of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP) which is not presenting a presidential candidate.

“You have people sleeping in the open forests. There is conflict in six of the 10 regions in Cameroon. There is intense conflict in the northwest and southwest, then in the Far North [Region], you have about 300,000 people displaced by Boko Haram.

“In the East [Region], there is a spillover from the insecurity in Central African Republic. In Adamawa and the North [Region], there is spillover of the crisis in the East and Far North. There were over 71 kidnappings in Adamawa last year alone. I can’t contest an election with all this happening.”

Along with the secessionists are innocent citizens who have been arrested, detained and in the cases of some jailed for 15-year sentences or longer, on trumped-up charges of terrorism, says Agbor Nkongho, director of Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) in Buea.

Nkongho himself was detained for eight months last year at the Kondengui prison in Yaounde and his trial was adjourned six times before a military tribunal acquitted him last August.

“I was detained alongside suspected Boko Haram insurgents,” he says. “There was this lady who was only released recently – she gave birth to her baby in prison.”

Mental health concerns

Beyond the detentions and displacements, there are concerns about the lingering trauma that could significantly hamper the healing and reintegration process for survivors.

Widows who have lost their spouses to flying bullets, children separated from their parents and citizens who have lost their incomes could have no life to return to.

For secessionist fighters, the option of an amnesty programme and “de-radicalisation” therapies are not on the table, as the government has reportedly backed a shoot-at-sight order with them as the targets.

“Election is overshadowing the crisis especially in the Francophone regions,” concurs Nkongho. “It is a non-issue in the south given the threat by the Ambazonia boys … We’ve not seen any plans to properly take care of the displaced people and the government is not admitting that there are refugees outside the country.”

Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered.

DR ERIC GOLA, MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST

The government’s humanitarian response has been underwhelming, say civil society leaders who point out that its relief programme factored in just 160,000 people, a number likely picked up from a UNOCHA report released earlier this year. The plan does not also address the urgent need for psychosocial support for the displaced population.

“The plan didn’t acknowledge refugees and so made no provision for those in Nigeria,” says Nkongho.

“Also, those who were to manage it are some of those seen as the enemy by the displaced and have no moral authority to implement things and distribute relief. We asked them to include civil society and the clergy who are neutral, but this wasn’t done. It has failed and it’s just a political scheme to show that President Biya cares.”

The CHRDA, which already provides legal aid and relief items to the vulnerable, is in discussions to get immediate psychological help for all those affected by the conflict.

Local churches are also gradually stepping in to fill the void by organizing small-scale trauma healing workshops, but there are few seasoned professionals to join in the process.

Abuse of substances like cannabis and tramadol is also common across both regions, warns Dr Eric Gola, a mental health specialist in Kumbo, in the northwest region.

Since the conflict began in 2016, he has been working with Berikids, one of the few rehabilitation centres nationwide.

“Many are going through some torture, losing properties and going through serious psychological distress. They don’t know what will happen because things are so unpredictable. Parents watching their children get killed and children watching their parents murdered. Soldiers raping.

“The Ambazonia boys are now taking up arms and getting involved in substance abuse to get courage to fight since they are untrained. It is affecting them mentally and rehabilitation centres will face a deluge in the post-war future because most families will have serious psychiatric cases because of the trauma of war.”

Gola was contacted a few months ago by some Catholic priests who wanted to establish centres for managing psychosocial disorders and post-traumatic stress conditions pending the outcome of the conflict. It’s a drive that he wishes the government had.

“The president declared war on Southern Cameroons,” he laments. “He has the yam and the knife to stop the war, release those in detention in connection to the crisis, demilitarise both regions and organise a dialogue with all parties concerned.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

The twin factors of conflict and violence continues to adversely affect countries in East and Central Africa region, according to a September 2018 report by Geneva-based International Displacement Monitoring Center, IDMC.

In a list of the top 10 countries affected by instability leading to mass displacements, six African countries made the ranking with a combined displacement figure of over 3.5 million. The period under consideration being the first half of 2018 – January to June.

Ethiopia’s internally displaced figure of 1.4 million put it top of the ranking, 200,000 more than that of Syria. Democratic Republic of Congo came in third with 946,000 displaced.

The other Central African country on the list was Central African Republic in sixth spot with 232,000. Somalia (5th with 341,000) and South Sudan (7th with 215,000) completed the list for East Africa.

The sole West African country that made the list was Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation recorded an internally displaced figure of 417,000 as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the North East and communal clashes along the middle belt.

The non African nations listed were Syria (2nd – 1.2 million), Afghanistan (8th – 168,000), India (9th – 166,000) and Yemen (10th – 142,000).

Comparative review of figures January – June 2017 and 2018.

Ethiopia – 213,000 (2017) now 1.4 million
DR Congo – 997,000 now 946,000
Nigeria – 142,000 now 417,000
Somalia – 166,000 now 341,000
C. A. R. – 206,000 now 232,000
S. Sudan – 163,000 now 215,000

The above figures indicate that all the countries with the exception of DR Congo grew their internally displaced population as per figures of 2017 vis-a-vis 2018.

In the Central Africa region, there is also the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon that has caused internal displacements and caused others to flee across the border into Nigeria.

Much of Southern Africa remains relatively peaceful except for recent cases of violent attacks in parts of Mozambique. West Africa’s insecurity in the Sahel region is seen in combat between state actors and terrorist elements.

Amnesty International says its experts have verified two videos from Cameroon’s Anglophone regions that, two years after peaceful protests were met by military force under President Paul Biya, now demonstrate escalating violence in the West African nation.

The first video shows the decapitation and mutilation of a gendarme, presented by someone claiming to be a member of the Amabazonia armed separatist group. The second video is connected to the first and adds information about the seizure of the gendarme’s AK Chinese Type 56 weapon.

“Amnesty is not yet in a position to independently confirm the exact location of where the videos were shot, but analysis suggests it might be in the area of Belo, in the North West region which has been badly affected by the crisis,” the international NGO said.

Amnesty also documented attacks on ordinary citizens and students, and appealed to the armed separatists to stop.

“With the upcoming elections in Cameroon, we have reason to fear a further upsurge in violence,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We may well see an escalation in the number of security incidents and increased activity by armed separatists threatening to disrupt the electoral process at all costs in the Anglophone regions.”

Some 400 people have now been killed by either government forces or the separatists. Many Anglophone leaders also remain in detention. Cameroon’s crisis has sparked tensions with neighboring Nigeria, and is a regional stability concern as well as an international security issue.

“The situation is reaching a critical threshold and the risk of mass atrocity crimes occurring in the immediate future is very high if effective preventive action is not taken,” warned the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect on Friday.

Author: AT editor

Source: africatimes

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