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The UK is to supply new emergency aid to help tackle a humanitarian crisis in Cameroon, as the Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin calls for full humanitarian access to save thousands of children’s lives.

Fighting between Anglophone separatists and Cameroon security forces has displaced almost half a million people since tensions flared more than a year ago in the North-West and South-West regions of the country. The humanitarian situation on the ground is deteriorating, food supplies are critical and thousands of children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

The much-needed new UK aid funding, delivered through UNICEF, will:

  • treat 1,300 children who are most at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition
  • provide essential drugs to treat 5,700 children for deadly diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, and acute respiratory infections
  • deliver water and sanitation kits, non-food items and dignity kits to 10,000 people
  • provide 2,000 mosquito-nets to prevent malaria
  • vaccinate 3,500 children against measles
  • identify and support many unaccompanied children.

Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin said:

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in desperate conditions in Cameroon. We call on all parties to provide full humanitarian access to ensure more lives are not put at risk.

It is the most vulnerable, particularly young children, who find themselves on the front line of this humanitarian crisis.

UK aid will make sure the most vulnerable can get the medical treatment, food, water and support they so desperately need.

The new funding will go towards a $15 million (£11.9m) emergency appeal launched earlier this year by the UN.

Notes to editors

  • UK aid will be providing a £2.5m contribution to the UN’s response to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, with £2m to be disbursed immediately through UNICEF. The remainder will be allocated in 2019 to support the coordination of the international response through the Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE).
  • The total number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) has now reached 437,000. 30,000 refugees have been registered by UNHCR in Nigeria and an unknown number of people have been forced to migrate to other regions of Cameroon. More than 10% of the population of the Anglophone regions has been uprooted.

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Source: gov.uk


Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) led a letter signed by a group of Democratic Senators to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raising deep concerns about violations of human rights, the breakdown in the rule of law, and elections fraud in Cameroon. In addition to Senator Van Hollen, the letter was signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

The Senators write, “Cameroon has become an increasingly important regional counterterrorism partner and the United States has increased its commitment of security assistance in recent years. However, rising tensions in the Anglophone North West and South West regions, coupled with credible reports of human rights abuses by the Cameroonian armed forces in those regions and the Far North, where Boko Haram is active, have changed the tone of discussions regarding U.S. security assistance.”

They continue, “Reports indicate that government forces are responsible for extrajudicial killings, the burning of villages, torture, and other human rights abuses, including a much-publicized video reportedly showing soldiers executing two women, a child, and a baby they accused of being members of Boko Haram. The violent death of American missionary Charles Wesco underscores the level of bloodshed engulfing the Anglophone areas of the country. United Nations figures indicate that more than 21,000 Cameroonians have fled to neighboring countries and 160,000 are internally displaced.”

The Senators close the letter urging, “The U.S. government should make clear to the government of Cameroon that, while we remain dedicated to the fight against Boko Haram, our commitment to human rights and the rule of law is steadfast and we expect our regional partners to share that commitment. We must also emphasize the critical importance of a political solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions, work with civil society groups to ensure that elections are free, open, and transparent, and offer our assistance as mediators. The United States should impose sanctions on individuals found to have committed gross violations of human rights, consistent with the law. In addition, we will work with our colleagues in the Senate to assess whether additional conditions should be imposed on security assistance to Cameroon.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We are writing in response to concerns that have been raised about the recent elections in Cameroon, the ongoing crisis in the Anglophone regions of the country, and human rights abuses related to the crisis and the campaign against Boko Haram.

Cameroon has become an increasingly important regional counterterrorism partner and the United States has increased its commitment of security assistance in recent years. However, rising tensions in the Anglophone North West and South West regions, coupled with credible reports of human rights abuses by the Cameroonian armed forces in those regions and the Far North, where Boko Haram is active, have changed the tone of discussions regarding U.S. security assistance.

Reports indicate that government forces are responsible for extrajudicial killings, the burning of villages, torture, and other human rights abuses, including a much-publicized video reportedly showing soldiers executing two women, a child, and a baby they accused of being members of Boko Haram. The violent death of American missionary Charles Wesco underscores the level of bloodshed engulfing the Anglophone areas of the country. United Nations figures indicate that more than 21,000 Cameroonians have fled to neighboring countries and 160,000 are internally displaced.

In addition, recent elections were marred by irregularities and intimidation. Voter turnout in the Anglophone regions was reportedly “marked by apathy, and in some regions, outright fear,” and driven to unprecedented lows by the military’s campaign against Anglophone separatists, which has often veered into human rights abuses against civilians. The results of the election remain heavily disputed, and multiple presidential candidates have petitioned for the results to be voided, citing allegations of ballot stuffing and intimidation. The program director for Central Africa at the International Crisis Group told Foreign Policy that “[t]here is an emerging civil war. Anglophones feel completely disenfranchised, but they didn’t need the elections to tell them that.”

The U.S. government should make clear to the government of Cameroon that, while we remain dedicated to the fight against Boko Haram, our commitment to human rights and the rule of law is steadfast and we expect our regional partners to share that commitment. We must also emphasize the critical importance of a political solution to the crisis in the Anglophone regions, support civil society groups to ensure that elections are free, credible, and transparent, and offer our assistance as mediators. The United States should impose sanctions on individuals found to have committed gross violations of human rights, consistent with the law. In addition, we will work with our colleagues in the Senate to assess whether additional conditions should be imposed on security assistance to Cameroon.

We look forward to working with you on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

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Source: vanhollen.senate.gov

Anglophone activists in Cameroon and the diaspora have accused Cameroonian government-backed security forces of burning dead bodies of secessionist fighters a day after the bodies were piled in a spot in Bali the North West region of Cameroon.

Mark Bareta a leading figure in the Anglophone struggle said, ‘La Republique (The Cameroon Government backed) military set corpses of 30 Young men Ablaze! Untold darkness, lamentation and melancholy unravel Bali in the Northern zone of Southern Cameroons’, he continues by lamenting ‘Oh Lord we can’t live with these people’.

Another staunch activist for the protection of Anglophone rights in Cameroon, Jude Mortimer Kehla posted two pictures of the harrowing incident on his Facebook page and cried to one Facebook user the pictures are of ‘Young men burnt in Bali (in the Northwest region of Cameroon)’, telling another, ‘Children reduced to so much charred meat’.  National Times could not post the pictures because they are too graphic.

National Times can confirm that the 17 dead bodies were of secessionist fighters killed in Bali. However, we could not independently verify the authenticity of the claims that the youths were killed by Cameroonian government-backed forces neither could we confirm that they were burnt by government-backed forces.

More than 1000 youths have died in the conflict between government-backed security forces and secessionist groups in Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions. While most of the casualties have been recorded by secessionist fighters, dozens of government-backed security agents have also been killed in the killings. Fighting between different secessionist groups have also led to the death of dozens of others.

This is the second instance where corpses of death secessionist fighters have been burnt instead of been buried. It is unknown why the perpetrators of this heinous practice decide to burn the corpses rather than burying them or returning the dead bodies to their various communities.

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Source: natimesnews.com

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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Cameroon’s military says it has freed nine students and a teacher who were kidnapped this week from a school in one of the country’s restive English-speaking regions. It is the third time this month that students have been abducted from schools in the Anglophone regions.

Senior divisional officer Nto’ou Ndong Chamberlin says several gunmen were killed Wednesday in the military operation, and other armed men responsible for the abduction are on the run. The teacher was wounded in the rescue.

“Nine guns have been seized, four neutralized — among them the head of the team, called ‘Man of Lucks,’ and three bikes destroyed and even the camp has also been burned down by the forces of law and order [military],” Chamberlin said.

Gunmen kidnapped the students and their teacher Tuesday evening from Lords Bilingual School in Kumba, a city in Cameroon’s southwest region.

FILE - Students and their principal were kidnapped from the Presbyterian School of Science and Technology in Bafut, near Bamenda, Cameroon, Nov. 5, 2018.
FILE – Students and their principal were kidnapped from the Presbyterian School of Science and Technology in Bafut, near Bamenda, Cameroon, Nov. 5, 2018.

The kidnapping comes three weeks after gunmen kidnapped and then released 79 students and three staff from a school in the neighboring northwest region.

Eleven students were later kidnapped from the same Presbyterian Secondary School. Church moderator Fonki Samuel said a $4,000 ransom was paid to the abductors for their release.

Pierre Marie Abbe, a political analyst at the Catholic University of Central Africa, says the government’s war against the separatists has been a failure.

The government should drop the idea of war and organize dialogue with English-speaking Cameroonians, Abbe said. But for such a dialogue to be successful, he added, the government should meet Anglophone Cameroonians to find out from them who they see as their true leaders.

The government says separatists in the two English-speaking regions have torched at least a hundred schools and abducted or killed dozens of teachers. More than 90 percent of the regions’ schools remain closed.

The international community and rights groups have condemned violence from both sides and called on the government to negotiate an end to the crisis.

“The U.N. has, along with most of the international community, asked for dialogue,” said Allegra Maria Del Pilar Baiocchi, the U.N. resident coordinator for Cameroon. “We need to hear the voices of the people saying we have had enough and we want solutions. It should not only be the U.N. saying it or the ambassadors. We need confidence-building measures and I think we need peace.”

Unrest broke out in Cameroon’s western regions in 2016, when English-speaking teachers and lawyers protested the dominance of French-speakers.

Cameroon’s military reacted with a crackdown, and armed separatists soon launched a campaign for independence.

Clashes since have killed more than 1,200 people.

Author: Moki Edwin Kindzeka

Source: voanews

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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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The detained Cameroon Anglophone separatist leaders arrive court at about 11: 25 am today and headed straight into the magistrate office.

Going by our reporter on the ground, the ten leaders were in high spirit as they were seen smiling and waving at family members.

Going by the report, Tassang Wilfred and Sissiku Ayuk Tabe, have shaved the grey moustache they had during their last appearance.

Five Minutes later,  Sissiku and others were immediately bundled into their bus as the Cameroon court rejected their habeas corpus plea.

It would be recalled that the habeas corpus motion was filed in by their lawyers.

After making their first public appearance at the Appeal Court in Yaounde on November 1, the detained leaders had the opportunity to tell their story in court as their lawyers pleaded for their immediate release on grounds they were illegally extradited to Cameroon.

The fate of the Ambazonia leaders is still unclear with today’s court decision.

Source: journalducameroun.com

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An American missionary was shot dead on Tuesday in Cameroon during clashes between the separatists and government soldiers. Charles Wesco, 44, was traveling with his wife, son and a driver when they came under fire.

More than 400 civilians have already died in the conflict between the country’s French-speaking majority and its English-speaking minority. But perhaps the tragic death of a Westerner — one who had devoted his life to helping Cameroon — will now prompt the United States and Europe to stop looking away.

President Paul Biya, in power for 36 years, is set to be sworn in next week for another seven-year term after claiming victory Oct. 7 in elections marred by allegations of fraud. Despite ample evidence of vote tampering and insecurity on election day, Washington was quick to congratulate the people of Cameroon on what it called a “largely peaceful elections.”

Cameroonians, who have long been yearning for peace, can hardly be blamed for regarding that statement as a mockery. Most of them, not only the English-speakers who are fighting desperately for independence, had hoped that Biya would leave the palace. Those hopes are now dashed.

I spent voting day in Buea, the capital of the southwest Anglophone region. I didn’t see a single person voting after midday — apart from the governor, who showed with a bodyguard of heavily armed soldiers. Most of the locals stayed indoors for their safety. In this region, where people have taken up hunting guns to fight his regime, Biya shamelessly claimed he won the majority of votes. Villages around Buea are entirely deserted — people are living in the forests, from fear of the president’s soldiers. Some 500,000have been displaced by the fighting. I could hear gunfire before, during and after the election. More than a dozen people died in the Anglophone areas in the course of 24 hours. How could Washington give this farce a clean bill of health?

After the voting had closed, African Union observers said the ballot went well — despite the fact they couldn’t send any of their team to the far North, where the Boko Haram insurgency is wreaking havoc, or in the English-speaking regions, where the secessionists are fighting the regime. The AU verdict was not entirely surprising, because it routinely approves flawed elections; the U.S. statement in support of Biya was, however, a disaster.

If Biya, as expected, remains in office for the coming seven years, it is highly likely that the country will slide into a terrible civil war — one of which the world will take notice only when nobody is left to save. The worsening crisis is largely the result of the Biya regime’s refusal to address the grievances of the country’s English-speaking minority, who have long suffered from systematic discrimination. In silencing them, soldiers have killed about 4,000 Anglophone civilians, according to the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, a nongovernmental organization based in Buea.

Decaying bodies lie scattered on the streets of the capital. Sources tell me that hospital mortuaries in the city of Bamenda in the northwest are full, no place left for fresh bodies. The sights triggered memories of my own experience of Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. The comparison is more apt than it might seem at first sight. France, Biya’s leading supporter in the West, is repeating the same mistakes it committed in Rwanda.

The killing of Anglophone Cameroonians is not only the problem that confronts the country. Corruption is also ubiquitous. Though I had valid documents to travel and work in Cameroon, I had to pay money to be allowed to pass through every police and military checkpoint. Even at the international airport in Douala, staffers there extort money from passengers. This is not fiction. It’s my personal experience.

Bribes are common in many African countries, but Cameroon has reached another level. The anti-corruption organization Transparency International ranks Cameroon among the most corrupt nations in the world, having it tied for the 153rd spot out of 180 countries.

Biya remains unconcerned. He has spent at least four and a half years in total on private trips in the 36 years he has been president, according to research conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. He has made himself at home in Geneva’s five-star Intercontinental Hotel, spending an estimated $65 million on stays there since he came to power. Back home, most Cameroonians are struggling to make ends meet, and war-displaced women and children have no place to sleep. Meanwhile, critics are killed or locked away in maximum-security prisons; many others have gone in exile.

It’s high time for the West to reconsider its relationship with Biya — or at least to hold him accountable for the atrocities committed under his rule. Cameroonians, both English and French speakers, should stand up for their country and remove the leaders who are tearing them apart. Thirty-six years of pain is too much to endure. And they have nothing left to lose.

Author: By Fred Muvunyi

Source: washingtonpost.com

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The re-election of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya — in power since 1982 — could be bad news, not just for Cameroon and the region, but for the United States.

Cameroon for a long time was regarded as a paragon of stability in a part of the world too often marked by insecurity, civil wars and coups. During the Cold War, the country remained close to France, which served French political and economic interests while also suiting the United States, which appreciated French dominance in the region as a barrier to Soviet influence, not to mention Cameroon’s status as a modest but stable oil producer.

More recently, in 2013, Cameroon emerged as a valuable counterterrorism partner when the Boko Haram insurgency spilled over from neighboring Nigeria. Cameroon’s military joined the fight alongside regional militaries and with the backing of France and the United States, which boosted security assistance to the country, according to USAID data (the level of aid has since dropped), although as many as 300 U.S. soldiers remain deployed to the country to support and train the Cameroonian military. Cameroon also benefits from French security assistance (in 2013, Cameroon played a key role in France’s military intervention in the Central African Republic as a logistical hub and port of entry). Bolstered by outside help, the Cameroonian security forces have proven remarkably effective.

The problem is that under Biya, the Cameroonian government is rapidly becoming more authoritarian and bloody-minded, making insecurity worse, rather than better. The country’s days as a reliable partner seem numbered.

In the fight against Boko Haram, the Cameroonian military has racked up a deplorable record of human rights abuses committed against civilians in the name of counterterrorism, including abuses committed by the American-trained Rapid Intervention Brigade. This summer, videos emerged of Cameroonian forces killing civilians, including particularly shocking footage of an execution of women and children. One of the women was shot with a baby strapped to her back, which was also killed.

Cameroon’s harsh tactics might be working, at least in the short term: Violence committed by Boko Haram has declined, according to data collected by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. History, however, suggests that Cameroonian forces are only sowing the seeds of future conflict. The bloodshed, moreover, increasingly is overshadowed by a much more dangerous conflict that is entirely of the Cameroonian government’s making: A violent insurgency in the country’s English-speaking regions, known as Ambazonia, a vestige of British rule over a portion of the country after Britain and France took the country from Germany at the end of World War I.

The conflict has been “decades in the making,” ever since 1972 (before Biya), when Cameroon’s government abandoned federalism and tried to integrate the once British-governed regions into a centralized state without taking steps to protect the rights of anglophones, heed their interests or ensure their enjoyment of a proportionate share of benefits and opportunities. Thanks largely to heavy-handed repression under Biya, people who might once have protested peacefully have now taken up arms, to which the government has responded with mounting violence. The entire crisis, it must be stressed, was entirely avoidable, as at any point since 1972 the country’s leaders might have found ways to accommodate better their anglophone communities.

Under Biya, Cameroon is on track to become weaker and less stable, and therefore less useful as a partner, even if one were to set aside the question of the propriety of working closely with an increasingly abusive regime. Indeed, even French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly has been slow to congratulate Biya for his election victory. Rather than being part of the solution to the region’s terrorism problem, Biya may be becoming part of the problem.

Author: Michael Shurkin

Source: www.upi.com

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Cameroon has invited bids to build a new house for the president of the Constitutional Council, two days after the council announced the re-election of long-time president, Paul Biya.

The $475,000 (£370,000) mansion is in an upmarket neighborhood of Yaoundé.

Last week, the body dismissed 18 opposition petitions against the running of the elections.

During the hearing, an opposition lawyer accused Judge Clement Atangana of supporting the president.

His wife is an MP for the ruling party but Justice Atangana denied any bias and said all his judgements were based on the law.

While the tender indicates that the building will be a public structure, given the timing, many Cameroonians view this as being specifically for Justice Atangana, reports the BBC’s Ngala Killian Chimtom in the Yaoundé.

The BBC has approached both Justice Atangana and the government for comment, but neither have responded.

What happened in the election?

Mr. Biya won a seventh term with 71.3% of the vote in the 7 October election.

He has been in power since 1982.

Opposition candidate Maurice Kamto, who came second with just 14% of the votes, continues to dispute the official results, alleging widespread fraud.

A woman casts her ballot in the polling station where the incumbent President is expected to vote in Bastos neighbourhood in the capital YaoundeVoter turnout was low in the restive Anglophone region

 

The election was also marred by violence especially in the two English-speaking provinces which have been hit by more than a year of violent protests and attacks by separatist rebels which have left hundreds dead.

Voter turnout in the country’s two Anglophone regions – North West and South West – was as low as 5%, according to the International Crisis Group.

Official figures recorded an almost 16% turnout in the South-West region.

The formation of the Constitutional Council was enshrined in the 1996 constitution, but its 11 members were only appointed, for a six-year renewable term, by Mr Biya in February.

The team’s first public function was adjudicating the results of the October presidential election.

Source: BBC

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