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.
Pre-talks between Cameroon’s government and Anglophone separatists, facilitated by Canada, have opened the door to a long-overdue peace process, but Yaoundé has baulked. The government should embrace these talks, while domestic and external actors should put their full weight behind the initiative.
Tensions between govt and Anglophone separatists remained high amid stalled peace initiative, and jihadist violence persisted in Far North.
Future of Canada-led facilitation of Anglophone crisis remained uncertain. After President Biya late Jan denied asking any country to organise peace talks with Anglophone separatists, and announced massive drive to recruit 9,500 soldiers, Ottawa launched diplomatic effort to change his stance. Meanwhile, separatist leaders, who are divided into distinct militia factions, late Jan-early Feb started discussing possibility of more united anti-govt front.
Both parties intensified military activities in North West (NW), South West (SW). After army 31 Jan killed separatist group Ambazonia Defence Forces commander “General Transporter” Ayuk Ndifon Defcam, group early Feb announced stepping up attacks and use of IEDs against military. Govt forces 7 Feb clashed with separatist combatants in Baba 1 village, Ngo-Ketunjia division (NW), with at least five killed on each side. Ahead of 11 Feb National Youth Day marking 1961 plebiscite in which British Southern Cameroons (current NW and SW) voted to join independent Republic of Cameroon, unidentified gunmen 10 Feb attacked Cameroon Development Corporation plantation workers near Tiko town, Fako division (SW), killing five and wounding at least 40. During annual Mount Cameroon Race of Hope in South West capital Buea, three roadside bombs 25 Feb exploded, wounding 19 people.
Jihadist attacks continued in Far North region. Boko Haram 2 Feb killed five people in Koza commune, Mayo-Tsanaga division; overnight 6-7 Feb killed eight fishermen near Blaram village, Logone-et-Chari division; 26 Feb killed one vigilante in Tumbun Ali island, also Logone-et-Chari. Meanwhile, clashes between fishermen and farmers 27 Feb left three people seriously wounded in Moulva locality, Mayo-Kani division.
In other important developments. After killing of investigative journalist Martinez Zogo in Jan caused national outcry, Biya 2 Feb ordered investigation and authorities in following days detained several intelligence officials as well as businessman Jean-Pierre Amougou-Belinga in relation to case, lending credence to theory that Zogo’s murder was state crime. Biya 13 Feb celebrated 90th birthday and over 40 years in power.
The authorities [in Cameroon] should persecute those who are responsible for crimes and include women in the peace process.
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.
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.
Around 700,000 young people were excluded from the school system owing to the conflict.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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