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Michelle Bachelete the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights after a four days official visit to Cameroon made an appraisal of the Human Rights situation of the country. 
Identifying responsibility in acts of human rights abuses in the North West and South West Regions, Michelle Bachelet said the security forces have been accused of committing serious violations, including extrajudicial killings and torture against civilians and captured fighters in both the North West and South West.

She said in the western (North West and South West) regions schools, hospitals and other key infrastructures have been targeted and destroyed by armed separatist groups. Government employees, including teachers who have dared to continue teaching, have also been targeted.

On a general note the UN Rights Chief welcomes the acceptance of the government of Cameroon to work with the UN Human Rights office and the rest of the UN, to seek effective solutions to the major human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by the serious unrest and violence taking place in North West, South West and the Far North Regions. 
She believes there are windows of opportunities to come out of the crisis which must be backed by substantial and sustained support from the international community including the UN.

Highlighting the fact that Cameroon faces disturbing insecurity in most parts, the UN Rights Chief underscored atrocities such as soldiers and civilians being mutilated and killed, entire villages burned down, and children abducted and forced to join armed groups especially in the context of Boko ha5ram.

Michele Bachelet indicated that she met with opposition party leaders, civil society, church leaders and about eight different Ministers of the Biya regime and President Paul Biya himself. She also confered with some institutions like the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms and the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.

In all Bachelet offered to provide advice and assistance to Cameroon – similar to the G5 forces in the Sahel – to help ensure that military operations are in compliance with International Human Rights standards and that violations are prevented in their operations.

Michele Bachelot stressed that members of the security forces who commit serious violations should be held accountable.

She condemned the targeting of civilians and the difficulties to access the conflict-hit areas by humanitarian aid and said the solution to the conflict in the North West and South West Regions is dialogue with an in-depth look at the root causes of the problem.

Source: Mimi Mefo Info 

THE US PUTS OUT MORE TROUBLING STUFF

The Human Rights Report card on Cameroon by the US State Department could be the same smooking gun the US could use to “refer the separatist conflict in Cameroon to an international forum”, (ie the International Criminal Court or UN Security Council).

You can read damning excerpts of the US State Department Report on Cameroon for 2018 here.

  1. “Government security forces were widely believed to be responsible for disappearances of suspected Anglophone separatists, with reports of bodies dumped far from the site of killings to make identification difficult.
  2. According to credible nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the government did not readily account for some of the activists arrested in connection with the Anglophone crisis.
  3. Family members and friends of the detainees were frequently unaware of the
    missing individuals’ location in detention for a month or more. For example, authorities held incommunicado Ayuk Sisiku Tabe, the “interim president” of the so-called Republic of Ambazonia, along with 46 other Anglophone separatists, from January 29 until late June when they were allowed to meet with their lawyers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
  4. “There were credible reports that members of government forces physically abused and killed prisoners in their custody. In its July report, Human Rights Watch highlighted the case of Samuel Chiabah, popularly known as Sam Soya, whom members of government forces interrogated under harsh conditions and killed, following the killing of two gendarmes by armed separatists at a checkpoint between Bamenda and Belo in the Northwest Region. A video widely circulated on social media featured Sam Soya sitting on the floor and being questioned about the killings, along with one other suspect. In the video Sam Soya could be heard crying in agony and denying participation in the killings. Photographs were released on social media that showed members of security forces in uniform using a bladed weapon to slice open Sam Soya’s neck and the leg of the other man, both of whom were lying face down on the floor and in handcuffs.”
  5. To read complete report, please, open this link:https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/289187.pdf

NO CRIME IS PERFECT. THIS COULD BE THE SMOOKING GUN THAT WILL BE USED TO REFER THIS MATTER TO AN INTERNATIONAL FORUM. SO STAY TUNED.

DR. DAVID MAKONGO

The Vatican has offered its services to help mediate in the conflict that has been ravaging the North West and South West regions of Cameroon since 2016.

The offer was made on Monday by the Secretary in charge of Relations with State at the Vatican Mgr Paul Richard Gallagher during an audience granted him by the Minister of External Relations Lejeune Mbella Mbella on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Vatican said it was deeply concerned with the situation in Cameroon and is ready to help the country seek a lasting solution to the crisis.

The audience that lasted for 45 minutes also saw both men discuss the relations between the two states as the Vatican promised to continue to help Cameroon in the sector of education.

Source: journalducameroun

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

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has learned with great concern of the forced return by Nigeria of 47 Cameroonians, who were handed over to the Cameroonian authorities on 26 January 2018.

Most of the individuals in question had submitted asylum claims. Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law.

The returns were carried out despite UNHCR’s efforts and engagement with the authorities.

UNHCR reminds Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and urges the Nigerian Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin.

We also urge the Government of Cameroon to ensure that the group is treated in accordance with human rights law and standards.

Source: unhcr.org

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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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The escalating crisis in Cameroon is fueled in part by ongoing unrest in the English-speaking regions, UN officials said Friday.

An unfolding humanitarian crisis in Cameroon, fueled in part by ongoing unrest in the English-speaking regions, is escalating, said UN officials who issued an appeal Thursday for aid from the international community.

“Hundreds of thousands of people on Cameroon’s territory need urgent assistance and protection,” said Allegra Baiocchi, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Cameroon. “Attacks against civilians have increased and many conflict-affected people are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance due to the dramatic underfunding of the response. Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis. It needs to be high on our agenda.”

She spoke in Geneva, Switzerland, at the launch of the UN’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon, a $299 million appeal designed to reach 2.3 million vulnerable people. UN officials estimate that 4.3 million people in Cameroon, or about one-sixth of the population of 24 million people, require lifesaving assistance.

Officials were particularly concerned about raising the funds since the 2018 appeal for $320 million for Cameroon yielded only 40 percent of the goal.

Baiocchi said the ongoing conflict in the country’s Southwest and Northwest regions, home to up to 5 million Anglophones, was “the main driver” behind the increase in need, adding that the unrest there had uprooted 437,000 people from their homes and forced more than 32,000 to flee west to Nigeria.

The English-speaking Northwest and Southwest areas, also known as Southern Cameroons, have exploded in violence over the past two years as the government cracked down on an emerging separatist movement among Anglophones, who have felt marginalized politically and economically for decades, UN officials and experts have said.

Cameroonian government officials have blamed separatists for some of the violence and attacks on civilians, reporting as recently as last week that armed separatists kidnapped more than 30 people on the road between Buea and Kumba in the Southwest Region by attacking buses on the highway.

The victims were released after their money and valuables were taken, officials said.

The strife in the Southwest and Northwest regions occurs as violence plagues the north where Cameroon’s military is trying to defeat Boko Haram, the Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group that has launched many violent attacks in several African countries. Additionally, conflicts in northeastern Nigeria have forced 100,000 people to flee into Cameroon.

On Friday in New York, UN officials said the situation in Cameroon was worsening.

“Well, we’ve been concerned about the periodic violence that’s been happening there,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Our special adviser there, François Louncény Fall, has, in fact, in recent days, been in Cameroon, where he spoke with several senior officials, including the prime minister of Cameroon, and made clear our various concerns. One of the things we’re hopeful for is that there will be more efforts by the government of Cameroon to have a more constructive and positive relationship with the communities, including the Anglophone communities.”

Supporters of the Anglophones, including Long Island-based Stony Brook University Professor Patrice Nganang, have said their appeals for self-determination have been ignored by President Paul Biya.

The violence has escalated as Biya’s delivered a New Year’s Day message saying that he would eliminate separatists who refuse to lay down their arms.

“I am very sensitive to [the] worries [of residents of the Northwest and Southwest regions] about their safety and their aspirations for a return to calm and normal social life,” he said in a statement. “If my appeal to warmongers to lay down their weapons remains unheeded, the Defense and Security Forces will be instructed to neutralize them. I am well aware of the distress these rebels are causing the populations of these regions. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

But Yap Mariatou, Cameroon’s civil protection director , said in a statement with Baiocchi that the government had played a role in quelling the violence.

“The Government of Cameroon is responsible for the protection and well-being of its people and has been at the forefront of the response with its national and international partners,” Mariatou  said. “We acknowledge the scale of the different crises we face, and we encourage all the actors to work in close partnership to address the needs of Cameroonians and of the people we host.”

By Zachary R. Dowdy

Source: newsday

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The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Cameroon, Ms. Allegra Baiocchi, and Cameroon’s Civil Protection Director, Ms. Yap Mariatou, warned that the is a drastic increase in humanitarian need across the country due to the security crisis rocking it’s two English speaking regions.

While presenting it’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the West African country, in coordination with the Government and aid partners, she said; “Cameroon today can no longer be a forgotten crisis; it needs to be high on the United Nations agenda”.

“Hundreds of thousands of people on Cameroon’s territory need urgent assistance and protection,” Ms. Baiocchi said, adding that “attacks against civilians have increased and many conflict-affected people are surviving in harsh conditions without humanitarian assistance due to the dramatic under-funding of the response.

With needs rising by 31 per cent in a year, the UN today estimates that around 4.3 million people in Cameroon – one in six people and mostly women and children – require lifesaving assistance.

The joint Humanitarian Response Plan 2019 seeks $299 million to assist 2.3 million vulnerable people, more than half of those in need. Last year, a $320 million response plan for Cameroon was only 40 per cent funded.

The aggravation of the conflict in western regions is the main driver behind the increase, with armed attacks in the far north, and new refugees coming from the Central African Republic also increasing demand for urgent aid.

Insecurity and violence in these regions have uprooted 437,000 people from their homes and forced over 32,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. Four million people are affected by the conflict in Cameroon’s west, says the UN.

In addition, due to the deteriorating situation in northeast Nigeria, more than 10,000 new refugees arrived in Cameroon in 2018, bringing the number of Nigerian refugees to 100,000.

Needs ‘likely to increase in coming years’

“The Government of Cameroon is responsible for the protection and wellbeing of its people and has been at the forefront of the response with its national and international partners,” added Ms. Yap Mariatou. “We acknowledge the scale of the different crises we face, and we encourage all the actors to work in close partnership to address the needs of Cameroonians and of the people we host.”

“Humanitarian needs are likely to increase in coming years,” said Ms. Baiocchi, adding that budgets had failed in increase adequately in recent years.

“Underfunding means we cannot do all we can to make a difference in the life of most vulnerable people across Cameroon, whether it is the girl who is missing school due to violence, the displaced mother struggling to feed her children, or the father who has lost his entire family.”

Source: journalducameroun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Foxnews

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The 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


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