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Cameroon – update May 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 4, May 2022
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Violence continued in the north-west and south-west regions, although the level decreased, with 25% fewer incidents and an almost 50% drop in fatalities during the last four weeks compared to the monthly average for the last year.[1] The government believes anglophone separatists have joined forces with Nigerian militants and plans to shut down the trade across the border, halting over 90% of the trade. More troops were deployed to the border.[2]

A water shortage in the south-west region led to a cholera outbreak. The capital city, Buea, was reportedly without water or electricity for over a week in April.[3] In the north-west, the prices of staple goods skyrocketed, leading the government to designate it as an economic disaster zone.[4]

In the Far North violence continues, although the number of incidents decreased by over 30% and fatalities went down 66% in April compared to the monthly average of the previous year.[5] On 30 April, 14 civilians, taxi drivers and their passengers, were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants for defying the groups’ ban on movement.[6]

On 12 April, the government signed a military cooperation agreement with Russia to exchange opinions and information, among other things, training troops and military education. No direct reference was made to the anglophone crisis in the north-west and south-west nor the conflict with Islamist extremists in the Far North.[7]

At least 35 civilians have been kidnapped by Central African Republic rebels since the end of March. The Cameroonian government responded by sending hundreds of troops to the border. On 18 April they managed to free seven, though two died.[8]A dozen people protesting the anglophone rebels were abducted, the separatists claimed the government paid the protesters.[9]

Context:

In 2016, a series of peaceful protests by lawyers and teachers who, 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 an 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:

 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) suspended their activities in Cameroon’s anglophone south-west region and demanded the release of four of their workers who have been detained for months.[10]

The US government granted Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonians living in the United States, protecting them from deportation. Over 40,000 will be eligible.[11] The US Department of State released their 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and indicated violence has increased in the north-west and south-west regions and that ISIS-West Africa related attacks increased in the Far North. Members of the security forces reportedly committed numerous human rights violations in those regions.[12]

 

 

[1] ACLED Data.

[2] VOA, “Cameroon: Separatists, Nigerian Militants Paralyze Border,” 25 April 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/cameroon-separatists-nigerian-militants-paralyze-border/6543991.html

[3] Andalou Agency, “Cameroon’s English-speaking region facing water shortage, cholera epidemic,” 17 April 2022, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/cameroon-s-english-speaking-region-facing-water-shortage-cholera-epidemic/2565585

[4] RFI, “Price hikes push stable foodstuffs beyond the reach of many in Cameroon’s Anglophone region,” 25 April 2022, https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20220425-price-hikes-push-stable-foodstuffs-beyond-the-reach-of-many-in-cameroon-s-anglophone-region

[5] ACLED Data.

[6] Macau News Agency, “14 kidnapped in Cameroon’s Far North region,” 1 May 2022, https://www.macaubusiness.com/14-kidnapped-in-cameroons-far-north-region/

[7] Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, “Africa Media Review for April 25, 2022,” https://africacenter.org/daily-media-review/africa-media-review-for-april-25-2022/

[8] VOA, “Cameroon Deploys Troops to CAR Border to Stop Rebel Abductions,” 19 April 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/cameroon-deploys-troops-to-car-border-to-stop-rebel-abductions/6535583.html

[9] VOA, “Cameroon Says Separatists Abduct Women Protesting Fighters’ Abuses,” 8 April 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/cameroon-says-separatists-abduct-women-protesting-fighters-abuses-/6520686.html

[10] The Guardian, “Médecins Sans Frontières suspends operations in parts of Cameroon over detained staff,” 6 April 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/apr/06/medecins-sans-frontieres-suspends-operations-in-parts-of-cameroon-over-detained-staff

[11] Democracy Now, “Cameroonians Win Temporary Protected Status After Outcry Over “Double Standard” for Ukrainians,” 18 April 2022,  https://allafrica.com/stories/202204110019.html

[12] US Department of State, 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Cameroon, 12 April 2022, https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/cameroon/

 

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