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Cameroon is beset with two violent conflicts. The first, between the government and separatists from the English-speaking minority, has killed over 3,000 people and displaced 600,000. In the Anglophone regions, 800,000 children are out of school and one in three of the four million people are in need of aid. The country also faces a renewed Boko Haram insurgency: after waning briefly, it has come back to carry out deadly attacks in the Lake Chad basin. The war with Boko Haram -- centred in the Far North -- has killed 2,000 Cameroonians, displaced 250,000 and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defence groups. Elsewhere, and particularly following the October 2018 presidential election, ethnic discourse is heightening political tensions. Crisis Group aims to de-escalate conflict and promote a peaceful resolution in both the Anglophone regions and the Far North. Through field research and advocacy with the government as well as with national and international stakeholders, we also work to reduce friction exacerbated by the 2018 election dispute.

CrisisWatch Cameroon

Unchanged Situation

In Anglophone South West and North West regions, hostilities continued between military and Anglophone separatists with both sides reportedly also attacking civilians, while Boko Haram (BH) continued to target civilians in Far North. In early March, several clashes in Anglophone regions between govt forces and separatists reportedly left at least seventeen separatists, four soldiers and several civilians dead. Army stepped up operations in week leading up to 22 March re-run of legislative elections in eleven constituencies, claiming to have killed 24 separatists across both regions. Polling marred by low turnout and violence in North West region capital Bamenda, that reportedly left two dead. Local witnesses continued to accuse troops of killing civilians, which govt denied. Ambush by suspected separatists in Bui area, North West, 28 March killed twelve including soldier and local officials. Separatists also made incursion into predominantly francophone West region 7 March, killing eight including four security personnel in Galim town. To allow testing for COVID-19, one separatist group Southern Cameroon Defence Forces 26 March announced two-week ceasefire starting 29 March. Supporters of main opposition party Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) captured armed gendarmerie officer in plain clothes during MRC rally in Garoua city, North region 13 March; party 16 March accused him of trying to assassinate party leader Maurice Kamto. In Far North region, BH continued to target civilians. Notably, insurgents 2 March killed two civilians in Kouyape area, 3 March kidnapped and beheaded local leader in Yamgazawa village, and 22 March killed four in Tourou village.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

21 Sep 2018
We are not yet in a civil war [in Cameroon], but all the ingredients for a potential civil war are already assembled. Financial Times

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
17 Feb 2018
The main issue for Ambazonian groups [in Cameroon] is that they really lack finance. If they had money to buy weapons, train and feed their people, they could raise an army. AFP

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
12 Feb 2018
With the troubles in [Cameroon's] Anglophone regions and the persistent threat from Boko Haram, the 2018 elections will be a greater challenge than previous votes. AFP

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
1 Feb 2018
[Cameroon's President Biya] should quickly initiate a political dialogue on federalism or decentralisation or it’s possible that the Anglophone side will be radicalised even further. AFP

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
30 Jan 2018
Cameroon is heading into elections against a volatile political and security backdrop. Palpable political tension, instability in the English-speaking regions and attacks by Boko Haram [persist]. AFP

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
27 Dec 2017
There’s a real risk of rebellion [in Cameroon] that could make the Anglophone regions ungovernable. [...] The Anglophone crisis calls the foundations of the Cameroonian state into question. Bloomberg

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa

Latest Updates

Video / Africa

Video - Cameroon's Anglophone Dialogue: A Work in Progress

President Paul Biya has proposed a national dialogue aimed at resolving the Cameroonian government’s conflict with Anglophone separatists. Arrey E. Ntui, Crisis Group Senior Analyst for Cameroon, explains the reality on the ground in Anglophone areas and offers recommendations on how the government can make efforts to resolve the crisis.

Statement / Africa

Cameroon’s Anglophone Dialogue: A Work in Progress

President Paul Biya has proposed a national dialogue aimed at resolving the Cameroonian government’s conflict with Anglophone separatists. But the mooted dialogue will include neither separatists nor, it appears, other important English-speaking constituencies. Biya should allow greater Anglophone participation and neutral facilitation for the dialogue.

Also available in Français
Q&A / Africa

Uncertainties Deepen in Cameroon after Divisive Election

Cameroon went to the polls on 7 October amid several crises, notably the conflict between the government and Anglophone separatists. Crisis Group’s expert Hans De Marie Heungoup, in Cameroon during the vote, says it has compounded the country’s problems but also offered reason for hope.

Also available in Français
Video / Africa

Video - Elections Fail to Solve Cameroon’s Deepening Crises

Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project Director, says the crisis over Cameroon's 7 October election is the worst for 25 years, adding new risks in a country already on the brink of civil war due to the Anglophone crisis. Tensions may rise further once the election results are officially announced.

Briefing / Africa

Election présidentielle au Cameroun : les fractures se multiplient

Le risque de violences autour du scrutin du 7 octobre est élevé dans les régions anglophones mais existe aussi ailleurs. Le gouvernement devrait lutter contre la montée des antagonismes communautaires dans tout le pays et parvenir à un cessez-le-feu, au moins temporaire, avec les groupes armés anglophones.

Also available in English

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Arrey Elvis Ntui

Senior Analyst, Cameroon