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.
As govt and Anglophone separatists prepared for show of force, anniversary of self-proclaimed Ambazonia Republic on 1 Oct could pave way for escalation of conflict.
Authorities and Anglophone separatists stepped up military preparations. Media reports early Sept revealed President Biya late Aug ordered deployment of special forces against Anglophone separatists in North West and South West regions. Swiss mediator Günther Bächler around 14 Sept announced end, at Biya’s request, of Swiss-led dialogue initiative launched in 2019 between Yaoundé and Anglophone groups. One separatist faction in following days threatened attacks in Francophone regions, called on Anglophones to leave these areas to avert potential reprisals. Meanwhile, violence between govt forces and separatists continued. Notably in North West, govt forces 8 Sept killed at least three rebels in Awing town (Mezam division), and 10-11 Sept killed six others in Bui division. Separatists 8 Sept killed four soldiers in Bamenda city, and 25 Sept attacked gendarmerie in Awing, reportedly killing three soldiers. Rebels also 25 Sept abducted five hospital staff in Kumbo city, after govt forces 22 Sept arrested three medical staff accused of treating separatists. Military 28 Sept acknowledged soldiers 19 Sept used indiscriminate force on civilians in Andek area (Momo division), leaving two women dead.
Anglophone separatists imposed lockdown targeting schools. Some separatist groups 6-16 Sept imposed lockdown in North West and South West in bid to delay start of school year until at least 1 Oct anniversary of self-proclaimed Ambazonia Republic. Separatists resorted to violence to enforce lockdown. In North West, separatists 8 Sept kidnapped dozens of students in Bamenda city and Fundong town. In South West, separatists 6 Sept opened fire on bus near Ekona town on Kumba-Buea axis, killing six; next day fired shots on outskirts of Buea city, interrupting traffic. Suspected separatists 16 Sept also targeted Christian community, setting fire to church and kidnapping at least eight people including five priests near Mamfe town (South West).
Far North saw lull in jihadist violence amid heavy rainfall and flooding. Military in Sept repelled rare jihadist attacks on their positions; militants 24 Sept however killed policeman near Kolofata town (Mayo-Sava division).
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...
(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.