Anglophone crisis in Cameroon needs Church resolution

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon can be resolved only by the Catholic Church, says one of the world’s leading conflict-resolution organisations.

Noting the Church is the largest religious group in the country, the International Crisis Group says there are few alternative prospective peacemakers.

They say if the peacemaker role is not filled, the Anglophone separatist movement in Cameroon will continue to grow.

This will fuel further violence and exacerbate the ongoing insurgency in the Anglophone regions. The country’s elections late this year will act as “a flashpoint” for further violence.

The Church – representing about 40% of all Cameroonians – has been a vocal civil society group all through the crisis in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest (Anglophone) regions. It has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The roots of the crisis are nearly 60 years old. Put simply, there are two factions in Cameroon. One group speaks and is educated in English, the other in French.

The linguistic differences are a result of two territories with different colonial legacies being united into one state in 1961.

Since 2016, English speakers – constituting 20 percent of Cameroon’s over 24 million people – have been protesting. They say they have been grossly marginalised by the Francophone-dominated administration.

They have complained about the use of French in Common Law courts and Anglophone schools. They are accusing the government of razing villages and extrajudicial killings in their hunt against separatists.

Protests, strikes and other activities arguing for federalism or separation from the union are being sought by the Anglophones.

Separatists have also been accused of atrocities, have attacked Cameroonian security forces and have kidnapped opponents for ransom.

On 30 April, separatists kidnapped Father William Neba, the principal of a Catholic college, in the middle of Mass, although he was released later.

The International Crisis Group estimates at least 100 civilians and 43 soldiers have been killed in the conflict in the last seven months. It is not known how many militants have been killed.

There are also about 34,000 refugees “sheltering in precarious conditions in Nigeria and about 40,000 persons are displaced in the Southwest Anglophone region.”

Equinoxe TV reporters say the Cameroon government has banned the Catholic Church from extending humanitarian aid to persons fleeing the security crisis in the restive Anglophone regions.


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