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.
Canadian peace initiative to settle Anglophone conflict suffered setback as Yaoundé denied giving any country facilitation mandate, while fighting continued between govt forces and separatists in Anglophone regions.
Yaoundé denied seeking Canadian facilitation in Anglophone conflict. Following series of discreet pre-talks between Yaoundé and separatist groups held in Canada in Nov-Dec 2022, Canadian FM Mélanie Joly 20 Jan announced Ottawa had accepted mandate to facilitate talks between Yaoundé and six Anglophone separatist groups. Anglophone separatists 21 Jan said they were committed to negotiated process mandated by Canada, and civil society and religious leaders as well as women’s groups from Anglophone regions in following days welcomed announcement. Govt 23 Jan however denied asking any country to organise peace talks with separatists. Canadian foreign ministry immediately said it was in touch with conflict parties and “previous statement stands”.
Tensions remained high in Anglophone regions. In New Year address, President Biya referred to Anglophone separatists as “terrorist groups” and said troops had crushed many of them. Military 2 Jan said they had deployed troops to Oku, Kumbo and Jakiri areas in North West region (NW) after armed groups in preceding days sealed markets, chased people and vehicles from streets and abducted scores of civilians. Armed separatists 13-15 Jan launched new offensive against govt forces, attacking armoured military convoys in Mbengwi area in Momo division (NW), Banga Bakundu locality in Meme division (South West region, SW), and military post in Mamfe city in Manyu division (SW), reportedly killing at least one soldier in each attack. Suspected separatists 18 Jan killed electoral body official in Bamenda city (NW) one day after separatist leaders rejected Senate elections scheduled for 12 March. Govt forces 25 Jan attacked separatist positions in Ngo-Ketunjia and Mezam divisions (NW), with unknown casualties.
Jihadist attacks continued in Far North, particularly in Mayo-Tsanaga division. Suspected Boko Haram (JAS) or Islamic State West Africa Province militants 1 Jan attacked Zeneme military outpost, injuring soldier; 3 Jan ambushed Multinational Joint Task Force in Djeneme area of Mozogo commune, injuring two; 11 Jan reportedly killed at least one civilian in Dingliding area; and 22 Jan killed two civilians and one soldier in Nguetchéwé locality (all Mayo-Tsanaga).
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.
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