Cameroon is beset with two major violent conflicts but also faces rising ethno-political tensions on- and offline. The bigger conflict, between the government and separatists from the English-speaking minority, started in 2017 and has killed over 6,000 people. It has displaced 765,000 people, of whom over 70,000 are refugees in Nigeria. According to the UN, 2.2 million of the Anglophone regions’ four million people need humanitarian support while about 600,000 children have been deprived of effective schooling because of the conflict. The country also faces a reinvigorated jihadist insurgency with deadly attacks in the Lake Chad area. The war with Boko Haram, centred in the Far North, has killed over 3,000 Cameroonians, displaced about 250,000 and triggered the rise of vigilante self-defence groups. Nascent ethnic clashes along the border with Chad have displaced thousands too. Elsewhere, and particularly following the October 2018 presidential election, ethnic discourse is heightening political tensions on- and offline. Through field research and advocacy with the government as well as with national and international stakeholders, Crisis Group works to de-escalate conflict and promote a peaceful resolution in the Anglophone regions and the Far North as well as to stop ethno-political tensions from sliding into violence.
Years of fighting between separatists and the state in Cameroon have hit women hard, uprooting hundreds of thousands. The government and external partners should step up aid for the displaced. Donors should start planning now for including women activists in future peace talks.
President Biya celebrated 40 years in power as Anglophone conflict continued in west and jihadist violence persisted in Far North.
Biya marked 40 years as president, pursued plans to have his son succeed him. For Biya’s 40th anniversary in power, ruling party around 6 Nov held official celebrations and ceremonies across country. Traditional authorities, ruling party officials and residents in North region – a ruling party stronghold – same day received Biya’s son Franck in great pomp with all airs of president-in-waiting. Meanwhile, members of diaspora political opposition group Brigade Anti-Sardinards violently disrupted reception marking Biya’s 40-year rule in French capital Paris, with some guests reportedly wounded.
Armed Anglophone separatists and military continued to engage in fighting. Govt forces 3 Nov reportedly killed separatist commander in Ediki village, Meme division, South West region (SW), and 7 Nov clashed with separatists near North West region (NW)’s capital Bamenda (Mezam division), leaving three dead. Separatists 14 Nov ambushed military convoy in Tubah town near Bamenda (NW), reportedly killing three soldiers; attack on another convoy between Kumba and Mamfe cities (SW) next day killed at least one soldier. Conflict continued to take toll on civilians. Notably, unidentified gunmen 3 Nov kidnapped nine health workers from govt-run hospital in Batibo town, Momo division (NW); authorities blamed separatists, who denied responsibility. Govt forces 24 Nov allegedly killed two civilians in Awing town, Mezam division (NW). UN working group on arbitrary detention around 14 Nov called for “immediate and unconditional” release of separatist leader Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine co-prisoners, said their arrest in Nigeria in 2018 was “arbitrary.”
Far North region saw sporadic jihadist violence. Suspected Boko Haram (JAS) or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants continued to target civilians, killing one 14 Nov near Tourou town (Mayo-Tsanaga division) and another 20 Nov near Kolofata town (Mayo-Sava division). Unidentified armed group around 14 Nov clashed with military forces near Bonderi town (Mayo-Sava), killing at least one soldier. Suspected jihadist combatants 15 Nov ambushed military patrol near Amchide town (Mayo-Sava), and throughout month repeatedly looted town.
Cameroon cannot simply afford to allow the ethnic and political tensions it is facing to rise to levels where they could constitute inter-community violence.
Around 700,000 young people were excluded from the school system owing to the conflict.
Le gouvernement et la société civile anglophone ont mis beaucoup de pression sur les groupes séparatistes pour que leurs enfants retournent à l'école.
Le boycott des écoles était une stratégie des séparatistes ces dernières années. 700.000 jeunes environ étaient en dehors du système scolaire à cause du conflit.
Dans un contexte de violence accrue contre les populations et les séparatistes, le risque est que même une fois la paix revenue dans les régions anglophones, cela compliq...
(The election) will further bias the character of state institutions toward the views of a single party and seems bound to reduce prospects for frank discussions about re...
Since 2017, fighting between separatist insurgents and the military has disrupted the education of over 700,000 children in Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions. As the school year starts in September, education in the conflict-affected regions is at risk again. The two sides should strive to protect schools from being attacked and keep classrooms open.
As anglophone separatists continue their conflict with the government, women’s voices must be heard to find a solution.
In this virtual roundtable, Crisis Group's Cameroon Senior Analyst and invited experts discuss the current situation in the Anglophone regions and the role of women in setting the foundations of future peace.
Cameroon will shortly begin hosting the biggest Africa Cup of Nations in history. Eight games will be held in Anglophone regions riven since 2016 by conflict between the government and separatists. Internal and external actors should seize the opportunity to broker a football truce.
In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk with Arrey Elvis Ntui, Crisis Group’s Cameroon expert, about a deadly separatist insurgency pitting Anglophone militants against the Cameroonian government that is almost five years old but garners little international attention.
A heavily contested presidential election in 2018 has unleashed a new layer of political tensions that have taken an ethnic turn and found a formidable amplifier on social media.
Two years after Cameroon’s contested presidential election, political rivalry has taken a worrying direction as the incumbent’s supporters trade ethnic slurs with backers of his main challenger. The government should undertake electoral reforms, bar discrimination and work with social media platforms to curtail hate speech.
With a boycotting opposition and low expected turnout in conflict-affected Anglophone regions, Cameroon’s ruling party should win big in forthcoming elections. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Arrey Ntui explains why that result means dialogue about the country’s crises will have to happen outside parliament.
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