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.
Originally published in The Guardian
Originally published in World Politics Review
Army killed several suspected separatists in anglophone region amid major cholera outbreak in area’s south east; meanwhile, security forces launched operation in east to free hostages. Separatist attacks continued against civilians in Northwest (NW) and Southwest (SW) anglophone regions. Notably, separatists 7 April kidnapped dozen protesters in Mbalangi, near Kumba (SW) town and Oku (NW) subdivision; 12 April ambushed and killed five penitentiary officers in Nkum town, Bui division (NW). Authorities 8 April also stated armed men torched dozen homes and killed six people in Mbonhong village, Ndu district (NW) targeting Mbororo ethnic group, who they blamed for earlier attacks in community; in response, soldiers 26 April killed six attackers. Military raid against separatists in Bali town (NW) 21 April left three civilians dead. In Mbalangi, near Kumba (SW) and Jakiri (NW) towns, angry mobs 5 April killed three separatists accused of rape and other violence. Soldiers 25 April killed eight men in Guzang, Batibo town, who they accused of being separatists. Cholera outbreak, which started in Oct 2021, continued to take heavy toll on anglophone region’s south west, with about 50 per cent of all 4,627 cholera cases across country recorded there as of 5 April; Meme and Ndian divisions (SW) and Littoral were most affected areas due to worsening pre-existing water crisis and enduring armed conflict. After years of campaigning by Anglophones and dozens of civil society groups, U.S. administration 15 April granted Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonian migrants, allowing 18-month stay until individual status is determined. Meanwhile, in east, military 18 April sent hundreds of troops to border Mbere division near Central African Republic, where rebels had abducted at least 35 people; operation left two dead and five hostages freed. In Northeast, Boko Haram jihadists 2 April killed two civilians in Doulong Touro village, Mayo Tsanaga division; 29 April reportedly abducted at least 14 people in Bargaram locality, Logone-et-Chari department. Regional Multinational Joint Task Force 1 May reported killing at least 20 suspected jihadists during operation in Nigeria and Cameroon 27-29 April. Cameroon 12 April signed military deal with Russia, renewing cooperation.
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.
Après vingt mois d’affrontements, Yaoundé et les séparatistes campent sur leurs positions. Entre la sécession voulue par les séparatistes et la décentralisation en trompe-l’œil que propose le gouvernement, des solutions médianes doivent être explorées pour conférer plus d’autonomie aux régions.
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.
The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is growing deadlier. The Catholic Church could mediate between Anglophone militants and the state, but clergy have espoused clashing views on key issues. The Church should heal its divides so as to be a neutral arbiter that can broker peace.
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 complique les relations entre les Mbororo et les autres groupes ethniques.
(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 resolving the Anglophone conflict and other brewing crises.
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.
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.
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.
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.