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In Cameroon, three conflicts have hit hard on the country largely considered to have been peaceful and stable in a troubled African region. President Paul Biya who has been in power for 37 years is heavily criticized by both the national and the international communities for an overstayed welcome. Observers say the president’s poor governance and longevity is responsible for some of the conflicts especially the anglophone crisis rocking the North West and South West regions.

Young people notably students in peace and security, civil society leaders, lawyers, women leaders and members of the general public gathered Friday 8th of November 2019 at St. Claire Hotel in Buea. Organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, the event is part of efforts put forth by the Yaounde based civil society group to assist the government of Cameroon accelerate progress towards finding pathways for peace in the country

Conflicts in Cameroon

Cameroon is currently battling the Boko Haram Insurgency in the Far North region of the country. In May 2014, the country declared war on Boko Haram at the Paris Summit in France . Since then, the sect has intensified its activities in the Far North Region of the country, making Cameroon the second most targeted country, in terms of attacks after Nigeria by the sect. In May 2016 Hans De Marie Heungoup, Cameroon analyst at the International Crisis Group, provided insights on the rise of Boko Haram in Cameroon, the stakes for the country and efforts made by the Government to overcome the jihadist organisation. He pointed out that the terrorist group began growing its ideology between 2011 and 2013 and began spreading mainly in the Logone and Chairi and the Mayo Sava divisions in the Far North region of the country , stating it could gradually establish criminal networks around the country. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009. When Boko Haram first formed, their actions were nonviolent. Their main goal was to “purify Islam in northern Nigeria”. In March 2015, the group aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Since the current insurgency started in 2009 , Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index .

In the East region of the country, the influx of refugees from the Central African Republic has created another crisis where cattle farmers engage in conflict with the refugees over land. In June 2019, the total number of CAR refugees in the East Region in Cameroon was estimated at 257 000 people according to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. The Surveys showed that refugees intended to stay in Cameroon as long as their home country remains marred by instability. 70% of the refugees lived among local communities, thereby increasing the pressure on access to basic services, such as healthcare or education, and local resources, such as firewood, water or land. But in October 2019 Cameroon began voluntary repatriation of refugees from the Central African Republic and some over 4000 returned to the country, an effort of the Cameroon government, the CAR government and the UNHCR

Meanwhile the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West regions is the most hit of the country with over 3000 people killed and an estimated number of over 4 million people directly affected by the conflict according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA).. The conflict that escalated in 2016 when teachers and lawyers of Southern Cameroon took to the streets to demand an end to the French infiltration of both legal and academic systems rapidly turned to a demand for more autonomy for the region. Both separatists and Cameroon security forces have been accused of hostilities, but it is believed government forces have the largest blame. The Trump administration in October noted it was applying economic sanctions on Cameroon by removing its membership from the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) , citing gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, a sanction highly believed to be in connection with the atrocities committed by the Cameroon security forces operating in the North West and South West Regions. But the US Embassy in Yaounde maintained its commitment to the Cameroon government despite the sanction, however, a renowned political figure in Cameroon, Banda Kani, believed to be president Biya’s ally accused the American government of sponsoring terrorism in Cameroon. Banda Kani made reference to the AGOA sanctions of the USA where analysts say will greatly weaken the moral of the security forces against separatists fighting for the restoration of Southern Cameroon otherwise known as Ambazonia

The over 60 participants at the conference in Buea, Friday analysed the three different conflicts and proposed solutions towards finding pathways for peace as well as examined the role of the civil society in conflict management.

The initiative according to Egoh Modi Aziz, Development Policy Analyst at the Nkafu Policy Institute is important as any peace initiative has become a public concern, Mr Egoh says the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation actually is an organization that engages in policy advocacy, public policy and organizes such forums in order to provoke thoughts from citizens across the board so they can be used as evidence from the ground to articulate in the organization’s write ups and ensure they desiminate the information through their website, through public media such as academic journals and also ensure that these proposals are used as tangible evidence for lobby or advocate for policy changes.

The initiative Common Sense Solutions to Promote Peace in Cameroon has had several opinions from different towns and cities across Cameroon with outstanding proposals which Mr Egoh says Cameroonians should learn and leave in peace, they should promote peace building and not just peace because according to the development expert, most participants think that peace without action is mere wish, citing Prof Dze Ngwa Wilbroad, a renowned Cameroonian peace builder, who Mr Engoh says mentioned in one of the events. “Peace building is one of the Solutions most participants have been proposing. They also have been proposing love, and for us to showcase love, there must be that bonding, human bonding must be epitomozed among Cameroonians across the board, not just with the issue of Anglophone-Francophone but also within the construct of the Anglophone society. We must learn to love ourselves”.

Source: Bantu Voices

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