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Cameroon – update April 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor No. 3
April 2022. Read full newsletter here

Violence against civilians increased in from February to March 2022, although the overall number of incidents for the first quarter of 2022 remained substantially lower than the first quarter of 2021.20 Cameroon’s government argued that the military raids on separatist bases that claimed the lives of at least 20 fighters in February, have helped to bring calm to several towns in Anglophone Cameroon.21 Despite this, violence in the anglophone region continues. On 2 March, a bomb killed seven people including a senior official and a mayor in the Ekondo Titi district.22 On 16 March, separatists attacked the Nigerian village of Manga hosting people who fled the violence. 21 people are missing and local

Nigerian authorities requested naval and air forces be deployed. The conflict first spilled into Nigeria at the end of 2021.23 On 28 March, unidentified gunmen, believed to be Ambazonians (anglophone separatists), stormed Magha village in the southwest region and killed a teacher and kidnapped five others.24 On 29 March, Ambazonia forces killed three Mbororos suspected of working with government forces in Mbongong village.25 On 30 March, an improvised explosive device killed a Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) soldier.26

The Ambazonia Boys have been meeting with the pro-Biafra group, the Biafra Nations League (BNL) separatist group, for possible joint operations from the Peninsula to Ndian division.27 The interim government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia removed its former president Samuel Ikome Sako for abuse of his power28 and Marianta Njomia was elected on 5 March.29

During March clashes between the Esu and Mbororo ethnic groups flared up. Esu’s leader was killed in early March. The government suspects that the attack was carried out by local Mbororo youth who accused him of failing to stop youth from joining the anglophone separatists, the Esu responded by burning homes and buildings of the Mbororo group. The Cameroonian government deployed troops to the area.30

Context:

In 2016, a series of peaceful protests by lawyers and teachers who, in order to protect the Anglophone educational and legal systems, requested the creation of a two-state federation were rapidly suppressed by the government. In response, armed separatist groups then formed to fight for an independent nation called Ambazonia, proclaimed and independent republic in October 2017. Authorities in Yaoundé responded, killing and arresting those who they believed sympathised with the secessionists this drove the formation of Anglophone militias. By the end of 2017, the crisis had degenerated into armed conflict.

International response:

 On 8 March, the Hon. Mohammed Sidie Tunis warned fellow members of the ECOWAS Parliament of the need to address what he called an on-going genocide in Cameroon’s anglophone regions, indicating “the rest of the world must applaud and join in this ECOWAS drive as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 15 recognizes Ambazonian people’s right to create a nation, name it, and even move to a new nation.” He called for ECOWAS and AU to intervene in the conflict and prevent it from spilling over to neighboring countries.31

On 9 March 2022, in a letter to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, three members of Congress expressed concerns over U.S. support for Cameroonian special forces known as the BIR which have been accused of atrocities in the Anglophone region and that “support for security forces that commit human rights violations — apart from being incompatible with American values and illegal under U.S. law — is counterproductive to the very aims of counterterrorism.”32

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) indicated it will be suspending indefinitely its activities in the southwest part of the country, due to their deteriorating relationship with the government amidst false accusations of complicity with secessionists.33

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20 ACLED data.
21 Voice of America, “Cameroon Says Frightened Separatists Relocate to Border with Nigeria, Harass Civilians,” 18 March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/cameroon-says-frightened-separatists-relocate-to- border-with-nigeria-harass-civilians-/6490791.html
22 Voice of America, “Cameroon Says Rebel Bomb Kills Officials,” 3 March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/cameroon-says-rebel-bomb-kills-officials/6468320.html
23 Cameroon Online, “The Nigerian border village on the edge of Cameroon’s separatist,” 16 March 2022, https://www.cameroononline.org/the-nigerian-border-village-on-the-edge-of-cameroons-separatist- conflict-video/
24 Mimi Mefo Info, “Lebialem division: Suspected Amba Fighters kill teacher, abduct five others in Wabane,” 29 March 2022, https://mimimefoinfos.com/lebialem-divisionsuspected-amba-fighters-kill- teacher-abduct-five-others-in-wabane/
25 Cameroon News Agency, 29 March 2022, https://www.facebook.com/CAMEROONNEWSAGENCY/posts/4870012356445110
26 Cameroon Web, “Noso: l’explosion d’un engin improvisé tue un soldat du BIR, 31 March 2022, https://mobile.camerounweb.com/CameroonHomePage/NewsArchive/Noso-l-explosion-d-un-engin- improvis-tue-un-soldat-du-BIR- 651086?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1648741992
27 Sahara Reporters, “BREAKING: Pro-Biafra Group, BNL Meets Cameroon Separatist Fighters, Ambazonian Boys In Bakassi Peninsula,” 13 March 2022, http://saharareporters.com/2022/03/13/breaking-pro-biafra-group-bnl-meets-cameroon-separatist-fighters- ambazonian-boys-bakassi
28 Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Letter of removal from office of Dr. Smauel Ikome Sako as President by the Restoration Council, 12 Febtuary 2022, https://www.ambazoniagov.org/index.php/press-room/166-letter-of-removal-from-office-of-dr-samuel- ikome-sako-by-the-restoration-council
29 Interim Government of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, Inuagural speech of President Marianta Njomia, 5 March 2022, https://www.ambazoniagov.org/index.php/press-room/167-inuagural-speech-of- president-marianta-njomia-5th-march-2022
30 Voice of America, “Troops Deployed to Contain Cameroon Communal Clashes,” 10 March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/troops-deployed-to-contain-cameroon-communal-clashes/6479085.html
31 The Nigerian Voice, “ECOWAS Highlights USP Genocide ALERT in AMBAZONIA,” 9 March 2022, https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/306481/ecowas-highlightsusp-genocide-alert-in-ambazonia.html
32 The Nation, “U.S. lawmakers allege rights violations by Cameroon’s forces in Anglophone region,” 11 March 2022, https://thenationonlineng.net/u-s-lawmakers-allege-rights-violations-by-cameroons-forces-in-anglophone-region/
33 Pan African Visions, “Cameroon: Doctors without Borders suspends Activities in South West,” 31 March 2022, https://panafricanvisions.com/2022/03/cameroon-doctors-without-borders-suspends-activities-in- south- west/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CStarting%20from%20March%2029%2C%202022,South%20West%20Region
%20of%20Cameroon.

 

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