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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

Deteriorated Situation

In Anglophone regions, military launched raids on communities suspected of hosting separatists, which left more than 50 civilians dead; ruling party overwhelmingly won 9 Feb legislative and local elections marred by low turnout and fraud allegations, while Boko Haram (BH) attacks persisted in Far North. Ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) 9 Feb won 316 out of 360 municipal councils and 139 out of 167 declared seats in National Assembly; Constitutional Council 28 Feb ordered legislative elections rerun in eleven constituencies in Anglophone regions (west) as opposition accused CPDM of stuffing ballots. Thousands fled Anglophone regions as separatists imposed lockdown 7-12 Feb (restriction on movement, closure of schools and businesses) to prevent voting, fired warning shots and clashed with soldiers. In North West region, clashes between soldiers and separatists 3-5 Feb left five dead in Bamali village and in regional capital Bamenda. Soldiers backed by ethnic Fulani militia 14 Feb reportedly killed 23 civilians in Ngarbuh village; govt said “unfortunate accident” was caused by explosion during clashes with separatists while UN, EU and U.S. called for independent investigation. Security forces reportedly killed at least six civilians in Kuk village, Babessi town and Bamenda city 17-19 Feb, twenty civilians in Fungom village 20 Feb, and several people including seven suspected separatists in Babanki village 29 Feb. In South West, separatists 3 Feb opened fire on vehicle killing one civilian in Ekombe village, 20 Feb killed truck driver in Muyuka town. Military 3 Feb reportedly killed three civilians in Ikata village, 6 Feb killed six suspected separatists in Bakebe village, 20 Feb reportedly killed at least three civilians in Bakundu village. French President Macron 22 Feb said he would put “maximum pressure” on President Biya to end violence in Anglophone regions; govt 24 Feb denounced France for interfering in its internal affairs. In Far North, BH attacks 1-25 Feb left at least two dozen civilians, three militants and one soldier dead.

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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