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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Foxnews

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: foxnews

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: journalducameroun.com

 

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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The United Nations has caused controversy by appointing countries including Bahrain, Cameroon and the Philippines onto their Human Rights Council.

Bahrain, Cameroon, and the Philippines were among a number of nations controversially elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, sparking sharp criticism from rights groups and the United States.

Around a third of seats on the 47-member council, based in Geneva, were open for slots lasting from 2019-2022. A 97-vote majority from the 193 nations that make up the UN’s General Assembly is needed for approval.

For the first time since the council was created in 2006, each voting region agreed in advance on 18 candidates to be in the running for 18 seats – removing any competition.

New members Bahrain, Cameroon, the Philippines, Somalia, Bangladesh and Eritrea were elected with between 160 and 178 votes – and immediately drew criticism from activists in Europe and North America dismissing them as “unqualified” due to their human rights records.

“By putting forward serious rights violators and presenting only as many candidates as seats available, the regional groups risk undermining the council’s credibility and effectiveness,” said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Louis Charbonneau, the group’s UN director, called the vote “ridiculous” and said on Twitter it “makes mockery of (the) word ‘election.’”

At the start of the voting session, the General Assembly’s president, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, noted that every member state is allowed to apply for a seat.

Her spokesman later declined to directly address the criticism, but instead noted: “It’s clear that the world expects that members of international bodies will abide to a certain set of standards of behavior consistent with the bodies they have been elected to.”

Five of the new members were from Africa, five from Asia, two from eastern Europe, three from Latin America and the Caribbean, and three from western Europe.

The United States pulled out of the council in June, calling the organization a “hypocritical” body that “makes a mockery of human rights,” in particular in regard to its stance on Israel.

Nikki Haley, who this week announced her resignation as US ambassador to the UN, said Friday’s vote demonstrates why the US was right to withdraw.

“Yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested. This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization,” she said.

“The United States will continue to support reforms that would make the Human Rights Council credible.”

Source: citizen.co.za

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