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Concerned Cameroonian pro-democracy activists met at three venues in the world earlier this week, to launch a global initiative meant to advocate for international intervention to halt ongoing human rights violations in the country.

The activists thronged venues in Johannesburg (South Africa), Geneva (Switzerland) and New York (USA) to launch the Global Initiative, a multi-pronged approach meant to pressure President Paul Biya’s administration to end the military brutality.

International human rights watchdogs that include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have over the past few weeks published harrowing details of events in which the Cameroonian military fired indiscriminately at civilians. Many have reportedly been killed, while more than 200,000 are said to have been displaced during the last few months, during clashes between Biya’s government and members of the English-speaking part of the country, who are fighting for the separate state of Ambazonia.

The United States government said earlier this week it was scaling back on its security assistance with Biya’s government, emphasizing the need to for the ruling elite to show greater transparency in investigating credible allegations of gross violations of human rights by the security forces, particularly in the Northwest, Southwest, and Far North Regions.

Last summer, Amnesty International released an analysis of two videos that appeared to show Cameroonian security forces executing unarmed people, including children, in the country’s far northern region.

Patrick Ayuk, Director of Sam Soya Center for Democracy and Human Rights (SSCDHR), told Southern Express News Friday that the press conferences, held Thursday, marked  the  launch of  the Global Initiative by faith leaders and non-governmental organisations and peace and human rights groups.

“The press conferences were held to call on the UN Human Rights Council to immediately send a high-level fact-finding delegation to stop the ongoing military brutality and other forms of violence in Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia),” said Mr Ayuk.

“The Johannesburg conference took place at Christ the King Cathedral in Berea. The coalition remains a non-partisan force focusing on an immediate end to violence and ultimately lead to a peaceful exercise of self-determination of Human Rights, consistent with international declaration of human rights.”

He said the coalition would be submitting a petition during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that will be held in Geneva on February 25.

Author: Mxolisi Ncube

Source: southernexpress.co.za

Kumbo Town is the second largest town in the North West Region of Cameroon, one of the restive English-speaking regions clamouring for autonomy. In recent times it has become an epicentre in the on-going conflict between Cameroon military forces and restorationist forces of the putative Republic of Ambazonia, often known as the Amba Boys. An unprecedented wave of violence has taken the town captive and is rooted in the New Year’s message of President Paul Biya as he approaches his 86th birthday, to use crude military force to quell the uprising if the terrorist/rebels do not lay down their arms.

In the early hours of January 1st, at 00.05am, to show allegiance to Biya (now in power for over 26 years), there was a deafening and frightful salvo of gunshots in all military facilities in the town causing the inhabitants flee to safety. The war had started.

The Score Board
In this month of January 2019 areas of the town such as Mbev, Ndzenji, Squares, SAC Junction, Mantum, Ber, and Meluf have been deprived of the right to own and live in decent houses. The conflagration of military fire has reduced many houses to ashes and forced many people to flee to unknown destinations, paving the way for mass looting from the forces of lawlessness and disorder. Many doors of houses are standing ajar after their crude acts. Soldiers come in waves and depart with looted material, especially Android appliances and food items. This probably is a well orchestrated and planned tool and strategy in this war of attrition. Target killings, extra-judicial execution, disappearances and abductions have become the hallmark of their presence.

In Mbve on January 18th, a pregnant nurse on her way to resume work at Shisong General Hospital was mercilessly gunned down by soldier from a rooftop.Two days later an early dawn raid was effected by the military within the premises of Shisong Hospital causing double trauma for the hospital patients as well as the Cardiac Unit. A young Internally Displaced boy of 17 who had never witnessed heavy military presence ran into the house where he was hosted for safety, but was unfortunately pulled out and riddled with bullets beyond recognition. Shisong, which hosted many IDPs, is experiencing a re-displacement, making a bad case worse. There is almost daily military presence and shooting around the hospital in the night and the IDPs plus their hosts have all flocked into the wards. No one can be certain of what is to come. There is an atmosphere of foreboding.

Everyone seems resigned to their fate. The military units making their entry from the West Region into Kumbo are leaving behind a trail of destruction of houses beyond imagination. Food stuff for people’s consumption is set ablaze. This is scorched earth policy. The civilians must pay the price.
January 21st a young bike rider at Squares-Kumbo round-about, who had just dropped off a passenger, ran into a military convoy returning from Shisong and was pulled off his bike and slaughtered with impunity. In Tankum Quarter, the story was no different; two young boys in their teens had their throats slit open by the military on allegations of being Amba affiliates. Minutes later military canisters were directed to another quarter, Kongir, setting a house ablaze, killing a two year old child therein, and wounding the sister and mother, who were lying in bed. Also, women have been raped with impunity. Goats and chickens have equally paid a price with their lives for roaming freely in town. They are shot and packed into military vans possibly for consumption. Beer parlours with stocks of beer that have been locked are invaded by these unfriendly visitors who consume the stock to excess and then shatter the remains into bits and pieces, thereby ruining the business of a proprietor.

Kumbo Town which used to be bustling with activity has become a dead town, a ghost town, a town abandoned to fate. About seven out of every ten houses have been abandoned. Frequent electricity black-outs or cuts are alarming. The cost of petrol and diesel has risen to absurd heights. The prices of basic foodstuffs have risen considerably. Getting water for use and consumption has become a Herculean task. Many people die in homes because they cannot afford the means to reach hospital. Many pregnant women have escaped into the bushes and far off villages for safety, disregarding anti-natal checks and clinics.

Commercial activities are at a standstill, with a gross shortage of basic commodities – even those that are available are sold at unbearable prices. Educational facilities are completely shut down and unemployment has soared. Dead IDPs are buried in the absence of relations by people of good will. Houses along the main road in the town are branded with bullet holes. Civilian farms within the precincts of military facilities have been torched and destroyed in order to create a buffer zone. Fugitives and IDPs moving into other regions are not free from harassment and death-threats. In Douala, IDPs are forced to pay a tax before being accommodated. Some are demeaned through innuendo and ethnic slurs. Many people wearing clothing of certain colours have become targets for the military. Wearers of black, the classic icon of tough guys, and red the emblematic insignia of Amba Boys, have become targets for elimination by the military. Bike Riders have not been spared from this fate.

On the other hand, Amba Boys that shoot for restoration forces, though defending and fighting for the marginalised, have equally left their own mark. Government sympathisers and those critical of them are whisked-off to unknown destinations where they are tortured beyond recognition and released only when a ransom is paid. They have frequently interrupted the little attempted commercial activity with death threats. Any Amba critic or sell-out receives the crown of brutality from the Amba Fist of Fury. Transit fees/fares demanded by Amba affiliates are heartbreaking. Moving from one Administrative Division to another is a nightmare with numerous check-points for both Amba and military forces. Having identity papers with a Cameroon Government Logo is nauseating and acrimonious to Amba Boys and a lack of them at Cameroon Government checkpoints is an occasion for arrest, torture, incarceration and death. This is the predicament of the inhabitants of Kumbo.

Reflection: “Actions that are designed for the methodical extermination of an entire people, nation or ethnic minority are always to be condemned as horrendous crimes” (Gaudium et Spes 79). “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation” (Gaudium et Spes 80). The obligation of preventing war lies on all nations. A world organisation that has Supreme legitimacy and authority seem to be the most apt means of preventing war and promoting peace.

Conclusion: Pride which is the spurious feeling of superiority leads to errors of judgment with the consequences of disgrace, destruction, opposition, and downfall. There is the need for upgrading the call to the international community to intervene and force the warring parties to the bargaining table in an inclusive dialogue; for the pen is mightier than the sword. If the present trend of events continues unabated, there will surely be a replay of the Rwandan episode, plunging the entire Central African Sub-region into a morass. A stitch in time saves nine! For now, “as wanton boys are to the flies so are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport.”
Source: Independent Catholic News.

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Ongoing violence in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon continues.  A refugee crisis threatens. The United Nations (UN) refugee agency reported more than 32 000 Cameroonians crossed into Nigeria as refugees. The Daily Vox team takes a closer look.

Cameroon Refugee Crisis

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have reported that intensified violence has led displacement.  There has been a displacement of more than 437 500 people within Cameroon.  More people fled into Nigeria where they are staying in refugee camps in Cross River State.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) built a refugee settlement in August 2018. By December 2018 it held more than 6 400 refugees.

In a report compiled by MSF, they spoke to refugees in the camp. Lydia Ochin from Akwaya, Cameroon said: “I escaped from my country in October 2017. I have lived with my family, my husband, and my children, in Adagom refugee camp since August 2018. Life in the camp is not easy. I live here with my husband, who is sick with tuberculosis, and my children. Eight people living inside a small tent. Now that my health is getting better, the biggest challenge is food. We do not have money to buy food on our own and all we eat is the rice that is given to us.”

In the area, the MSF Cross River project operates six mobile clinics for the host and refugee community. The organisation dug boreholes and repaired handpumps to provide water for the communities.

Civil society response

In February 2019, faith and civil society organisations like the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Denis Hurley Peace Institute will deliver a letter to the 40th session of the UNHCR. The letter demands UN members states investigate allegations of human rights violations in Ambazonia. At the same when the letter is delivered to the UN, press briefings are to be held in Geneva, New York, and Johannesburg.

There are daily reports on social media about alleged violence in the region. “The UN HRC has the power to cultivate the conditions for peace,” said the Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. “We strongly believe that a UN HRC-mandated fact-finding mission would have the immediate effect of quelling violence and saving lives.”

What has been happening

Conflict in Cameroon stemming from the calls for independence in South Cameroons began in 2016. The people of Southern Cameroon (Ambazonia) have demanded the right to determine whether they want to remain in a union with Cameroon or restore the independence of Southern Cameroons as a sovereign state.

Those calls led to a violent crackdown by President Paul Biya’s Francophone government on the Anglophone population of Southern Cameroon. In 2017 there was an internet shutdown to prevent mass mobilisations against the government and many people were killed by the security forces during protests. There were arbitrary arrests with people detained in already overflowing jails.

Biya won his seventh term in October 2018. The elections were marred by low turnout, especially in the Anglophone zones. He has been in power since 1982. The constitution was changed in 2008 which removed term limits which would allow him to rule for even longer.

During a 2017 march by the Southern Cameroons community living in South Africa, Milton Taka, a spokesperson for the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front said: “Only the Ambazonian flag will fly all over our land. Our people are taking their power back. From today we declare self-rule. Self-determination is an inalienable right and nobody will take that from us.”

Increased humanitarian crisis

There have been all around calls for an increase in attention for Cameroon. Both the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Cameroon, Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, and Cameroon’s Civil Protection Director, Ms. Yap Mariatou warned about the increased need for humanitarian assistance due to the Francophone-Anglophone conflict.

“Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on the United Nations agenda” Mariatou said. The UN estimates that around 4.3 million people in Cameroon requires lifesaving assistance. This is one in six people and mostly women and children.

Refugee crisis: Nigeria

There has been a cross fleeing of people. Nigerian people fleeing to Cameroon from the northern Borno state it’s been reported in January 2019. They are fleeing increasing Boko Haram militant attacks.  Reportedly there was a displacement of 30 000 people after a deadly attack that happened on January 14. There have been calls for the Cameroonian government to accept the refugees into the country. This all happens against the backdrop of the violence the Cameroonian government in enacting against its Anglophone-speaking citizens.

Author: Fatima Moosa

Source: thedailyvox.co.za

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Prof. Maurice Kamto, Cameroon’s main opposition leader has reportedly been arrested, his party and rights activist in the Central African country confirmed on Monday, January 28.

Kamto who is leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, has been taken to an unknown destination according to a lawyer in the Anglophone region, Agbor Nkongho.

Even though government has yet to comment on the development, it is largely believed that arrest which took place in Douala is linked to a peaceful protest by Kamto’s part over the weekend.

Reports indicate that he is not the only one detained but that other members of the party have also been held and are due to be sent to Yaounde for questioning.

He came in second in October 2018 presidential elections which were won by the incumbent Paul Biya.

The former Biya-appointee led an opposition coalition that involved renown lawyer Akere Muna, the pair struck a deal with about 24-hours to the opening of votes.

He was the first to declare himself winner of the vote following which security was deployed to his party offices and his residence. He was briefly put under house arrest but all measures subsequently withdrawn.

He was also at the heart of a legal challenge seeking the annulment of the presidential result. His team, however, saw their petition dismissed by the Constitutional Court which affirmed the seventh straight mandate of Biya.

Author: Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

Source: africanews

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SUMMARY

One netizen reminded him that it has been almost a week since the incident at dusitD2

The attack at 14 Riverside claimed 21 lives but the number could have been higher were it not for the swift response by security personnel

Cameroon President Paul Biya on Monday, January 21, extended his condolences to Kenya and President Uhuru Kenyatta over the recent terrorist attack at 14 Riverside but his message was not received kindly by some netizens.

Some slammed him for sending his message too late while others asked him to put his house in order first.​

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to President Uhuru Kenyatta over the terrorist attack at the DusitD2 hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

“I wish strength and fortitude to the victims’ families, loved ones and everyone affected, as well as health and speedy recovery to those injured,” read a post on Biya’s official Facebook page.

One netizen reminded him that it has been almost a week since the incident at dusitD2 and Kenyans have already gone back to work.

Numvi Destain: Are you just hearing of it today? Even Pdt Uhuru has already forgotten about it.

Yao Son Ibrahim: Kényans have already forgoten the incident you are just reminding them.Too late!!!

Prisco Herman: First remove the stick in your own eyes, why do you keep on consoling others without taking care of your own affairs at homeS

The attack at 14 Riverside claimed 21 lives but the number could have been higher were it not for the swift response by security personnel.

On Monday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i heaped praises on Douglas Kanja, the GSU Commandant who led the security operation with distinct diligence and professionalism.


He further directed all National Government administrators to step up the “know your neighbour” campaigns and ensure coordination, information-sharing and joint security actions in their areas of jurisdiction to ensure the safety of all citizens. 

Source: standardmedia.co.ke

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What began as a civil protest by some disgruntled English-speaking lawyers, teachers, and students from Southern Cameroons, against the marginalization of the French-speaking majority in 2016, is now gradually degenerating into a brutal civil war. Since President Paul Biya declared war on the secessionists after they attacked and killed two policemen in 2017, villages have been burnt down, thousands of people have fled their homes and more than 40,000 have fled to Nigeria as refugees according to the United Nations. In fact, there are even allegations of genocide in the region.

In the light of this situation as well as the following reasons, Nigeria has a duty to rescue the Southern Cameroonians from the claws of Paul Biya before he sends them into geographic extinction.

First, Southern Cameroonians were formerly Nigerians until the plebiscite of 1961 allowed them to join Cameroon. Despite this, they have been grossly marginalized and treated as minorities by the Francophone government in Yaounde. Hence, the reason for their agitation. There is nothing wrong if Nigeria supports Southern Cameroons in their quest for freedom since they share historical and cultural relationships.

Second, if Nigeria does not help Southern Cameroons broker peace, the spillover effects of a potential civil war will definitely affect the former. Currently, over 40,000 Cameroonian refugees are in Nigeria. The number may increase if Nigeria keeps folding her hands and watch as the Biya led government continues to lay siege on Southern Cameroons.

Third, if not anything but good neighbourliness. Africa has always been the centrepiece of Nigerian foreign policy. Since Nigeria became independent, she has helped many African countries through her good neighbourliness policy.

The anti-apartheid black movement in South Africa readily comes to mind as one of the examples of Nigeria good neighbourliness gesture. Hence, Nigeria must extend this gesture towards the Southern Cameroonians, especially as they were formerly Nigerians.

Fourth, Nigeria stands a chance of reclaiming the Bakassi Peninsula if she supports Southern Cameroons. On August 14, 2008, Nigeria handed over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in the latter’s favour. Before then, Nigeria and Cameroon had disputed over the ownership of the land. If Nigeria helps Southern Cameroon actualize her independence dream, she can revisit the Green Tree Agreement.

Fifth, genocide and state-sponsored terrorism are not acceptable in the post-Westphalia order. From reports, it is as if the war against secessionists has turned out to be a genocide and state-sponsored terrorism against the Anglophone Cameroonians, given how villages have been burnt down, and how about 160,000 thousands of people have been displaced from their homes.

If this is the case, the post-Westphalia order strictly forbids state-sponsored terrorism and genocide in Southern Cameroons and elsewhere. In fact, they could be strong reasons for the superpowers to invade Cameroon. But while it is as if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is asleep over the conflict, Nigeria can assist Southern Cameroons on humanitarian grounds. No country will chide Nigeria for this, knowing full well that the post-Westphalia order prioritizes humanitarian concern over a country’s sovereignty.

Nigeria will be the one to bear the brunt at the end of the day if war erupts in Cameroon. The number of refugees that she would have to host both in the south and north is unimaginable, a big threat to her security and resources. In order to avoid this, she must act fast either through the initiation of dialogue or openly declare support for Southern Cameroons.

Author: Ibitoye Olukosi

Source: qwenu.com

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While the year 2018 was a transitional year for some countries, which changed their leaders through the ballot box, some other countries like Cameroon and Mali decided to renew their allegiance to their presidents.

The third part of the 2018 elections review gives a brief insight on how election was carried out in Cameroon and Mali.

Biya secures 7th term after 36 years in power

The 2018 presidential elections in Cameroon witnessed some happenings which completely changed the traditional system; election-proclamation of result, to feature a heated court exchange between the state and the opposition.

A lot of people wished this election could be the end of the 36 years rule of President Biya who took over from Ahidjo in 1982, but all hopes were dashed when he announced his intention to run.

The elections took place in a tensed atmosphere with security threats in the North West and South West regions which has plagued the country for over two years.

Barely two days to the polls, two opposition candidates, Akere Muna and Maurice Kamto formed a coalition after several failed attempts by all opposition leaders to come together to unseat Biya, marking the very first time the country has witnessed a coalition.

Amidst growing tension, the election was conducted hitch free but massively boycotted in the restive Anglophone regions due to security threats.

Twenty-four hours after the polls, Maurice Kamto declared himself winner during a press conference in Yaounde stating that figures he received indicated that he had majority of the votes. Such claims were watered down by the government stating that only the constitutional council had the right to proclaim results.

18 petitions were filed before the constitutional council by individuals and parties including Maurice Kamto and Joshua Osih seeking partial or total cancellation of the process. These petitions were termed unfounded and dismissed by the constitutional council.

The Constitutional Council later declared Paul Biya winner with 71% of votes,and he was sworn in for another 7 years term on Tuesday, November

*Ibrahim Boubacar Keita garners 67% votes in election run off

Unable to secure an all out victory in the first round, Ibrahim Boubacar was declared victorious in the presidential race, after amassing 67% of the votes in a run off with main oppostion leader Soumaila Cisse.

The constitutional court in the country gave a green light for a run off to take place on August 12 after results of the first round indicated that no candidate was able to reach the 50% threshold to be declared winner.

Meanwhile several opposition candidate rejected result tallies and called for recounts of some ballots, but the president of the court declared such petitions “inadmissible”.

Despite the fraud allegations filed by Soumaila Cisse, Keita’s major challenger in the elections , Ibrahim Boubacar was declared winner of the elections by the apex court and was sworn in on September 4,2018.

However, Mali’s vote was marred by insecurity which caused many of the voters to boycott the run-off presidential election.

Author: Emilia Nkengmeyi

Source: africanews

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A Swiss MP challenged the Council of State of his country on the subject last Thursday. Sylvain Thévoz believes that the different stays of the Cameroonian head of state in Switzerland are shady to the city of Geneva, which he considers the capital of human rights.

Through an “urgent written question” addressed to the Council of State, Sylvain Thévoz puts into perspective, a number of facts to draw the attention of the Swiss authorities to the “harmful” nature of the multiple stays of the Cameroonian president on the soil of Geneva . He denounces the high cost paid by the Cameroonian taxpayer at each of these stays, or “40 000 dollars (nearly 22 million CFA Francs) for a night on the intercontinental. An amount that does not include airfare.

The expenses of President Paul Biya during many “private trips” in Geneva have been the subject of several scandals, the most resounding was sparked by a survey of the OCCRP organization. According to data published in February 2018, the Cameroonian head of state, still accompanied by his wife and a strong delegation of about fifty people, has already spent more than 1645 days out of his country for 65 million (35,031,458,800 CFA francs).

For Sylvain Thévoz, the evil can not be seen under the sole prism of financial losses for the State of Cameroon. “If it is established that the love of President Paul Biya is expensive, very dear to Cameroon, how much does it cost in Geneva?” He asks in a letter addressed to the Council of State, evoking the impact on the image of the city of Geneva. “As an MP, I am uncomfortable and many people are uncomfortable since Geneva is home to resort dictators who have enriched themselves by violating principles of which Geneva is the symbol and the defense in the world” he said.

We feel sullied by this presence that harms the image of the city. We have followed closely the demonstrations of Cameroonian citizens here in Geneva denouncing the presence of Biya on the backs of his people and we support these legitimate claims “he mentions in his letter before calling the State Council to respond to his concerns within three weeks (13 December). Otherwise, it could well accompany the next demonstration initiatives of Cameroonians in Switzerland.

Source: kmersa.ga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Foxnews

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Up to 50 Christian schools and hospitals have been affected, and the military has kidnapped four churches. “We need peace and the UN intervention”, a Cameroonian Christian says.

Last October, Paul Biya (86), the second longest serving president of Africa, won the elections in Cameroon with more than 70% of the votes.

The octogenarian, who has been in power for 36 years, will continue in office at least six more, despite the complaints of the opponent Maurice Kamto, who appealed the elections and unsuccessfully claimed their nullity.

THE CONFLICT IN AMBAZONIA

One of the most difficult scenarios for the president is the conflict with the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia, in the West and English-speaking region, with three million people.

Up to now, the president’s policy has been based, above all, on military actions in favor of the defense of a unitary and centralized state in Yaoundé, against the groups in favor of independence that denounce what they consider to be privileges of the French-speaking part.

The conflict, which has its origins in the colonial division of the continent and the incorporation in 1961 of the former South Cameroon, occupied by the British, to Cameroon, of French exploitation, has caused the death of hundreds of people, including an American missionary killed in October, and the displacement of tens of thousands since 2016.

“WE NEED PEACE AND THE UN INTERVENTION”

Christians are not exempt from constant confrontations either. In fact, they have been the object of one of the last actions by the independence militias, which in early November kidnapped 80 students from the Presbyterian school in Bamenda.

Although the students have been released, “we need peace and the UN intervention”, says a Methodist Christian in Cameroon, who has agreed to speak with Spanish news website Protestant Digital, preferring to keep his identity anonymous.

“Many people die every day, homes and villages are burned, there are famished people and also those who take refuge in Nigeria. We do not have a voice in our country”, he adds.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

Up to 50 primary and secondary schools and Christian hospitals have been affected by the conflict, according to the secretary of communication and information of the Council of Protestant Churches of Cameroon, Gustav Ebai, who has lost four relatives in the clashes.

The military has also kidnapped four churches to turn them into barracks. “The government of Ambazonia, which controls most of the Northwest and Southwest, has placed a group of soldiers in the school until the crisis is resolved”.

“There are often shootings between different forces, and a stray bullet can kill a minor”, explains the Methodist believer. Because of this tension, the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), published a statement last October, in the community bank holiday.

“Given what the English-speaking community is going through at this time, we cannot have a celebration while many of God’s children are being killed, suffering or living as internal or external refugees”, says the text signed by the Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba, of the PCC.

“The emphasis should be placed on supplying the Working Fund for the Mission, to allow the church to continue assisting our pastors and brothers displaced by the armed conflict that has brought pain and suffering to many”, the document adds.

CAMEROON RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY

53% of the population in Cameroon is considered Christian, according to the Joshua project. Of these, about 39% are Catholics, 22% Protestants and just over 33% belong to other denominations.

The sources consulted explain that “Cameroon is a country of religious tolerance. There is freedom of worship. Most of the Christians in the country are Catholics, Presbyterian, Baptists and Evangelicals, but there are also Pentecostal groups that are growing”.

In addition, “the main challenge is to meet, and this has made it difficult for the church to have a strong voice in the country”.

According to Central African missionary of Assemblies of God in Cameroon, Adongo Augustin Atilas, “believers are not united and live much more the syncretism and its ritual practices, especially when there is a birth or during the mourning after a funeral”.

Ethnic religions represent the third largest group of people in the country, with almost 22% of the population. The second group is Islam (24%), especially in the Northern part of the country, which lives in conflict because of the presence of Boko Haram and Fulani shepherds.

“Muslims and Christians have no problem in Cameroon. They live well and sometimes can share views on Jesus, although it is a taboo for some Muslims. They can visit you at night to pray and study the Bible, but they will never go to church”, Atilas says.

POLITICAL INTERFERENCES

The increasing conflict in recent years has mainly generated two political reactions to the religious fact: indifference and suspicion, depending on the point of view from which one looks.

“The government does not care about anything, it has no solution for the problems of the people, nor is it prepared to listen to the weeping of the masses”, explains the Christian Methodist.

Atilas believes that “Christians in Cameroon are not free to express their beliefs and are threatened by the bad government of the country”.

“We knew that there would be fraud in the elections since the beginning. Biya organized the vote, counted the ballots, registered them and proclaimed the results, despite being also a candidate. What can you expect?”

Lately, politics has also become part of “the prominent churches” of the country. In fact, according to the Catholic newspaper La Croix, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Catholic leaders, have created an alliance with representatives of the Muslim community to mediate in the conflict.

It is estimated that about one hundred pastors of the PCC have fled from the southwest and Northwest regions, because of the conflict.

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Author: Jonatán Soriano

Source: evangelicalfocus.com

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