MORE than a million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Cameroon, as the Anglophone crisis deteriorates in the west of the country.
At the end of June, a spokesman for UNICEF, Toby Fricker, said: “Around 450,000 of these people — half of whom are children — are internally displaced. . .
“For many children, it has been three years since they last set foot in a classroom. Due to a ban on education by non-state armed groups and attacks, over 80 per cent of schools have been closed, affecting more than 600,000 children.”
Violence in the west of Cameroon between the military and Anglophone separatists is thought to be the main reason behind the disruption, and is affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The Anglophone regions in the north-west and south-west are attempting to break away from the Francophone-majority country (News, 8 February).
The UN has said that at least 1800 people have been killed and more than half a million displaced in the two years since fighting began.
A United States Congressional delegation that visited Cameroon at the beginning of July urged the government to hold unconditional talks with the rebels: something that it has previously refused to do.
A California Congresswoman, Karen Bass, said earlier this month: “We especially want to see a peaceful dialogue, a peaceful resolution without conditions. We want to see all sides come to the table. We recently passed a resolution in Congress saying this, and we wanted to come and see first-hand what is happening in the country.”
A government spokesman, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, said: “At a time when Cameroon is resolutely moving towards its emergence, everything must and will be done to preserve peace and stability. Cameroon is and remains a rule of law.”
Mr Fricker said: “Children and their families are . . . fleeing armed violence, attacks on their homes and schools, abduction, sexual violence, and recruitment into armed groups. Imposed lockdowns, or ghost-town days, set in place by non-state armed groups, are affecting people’s freedom of movement and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
“Thousands of people lack access or have reduced access to basic services such as healthcare and safe drinking water, and livelihoods have been destroyed. As of December 2018, an estimated 40 per cent of health facilities in the south-west region were not functioning. . .
“The targeting of education is putting the future of an entire generation of children at risk — children who, with the right support and opportunities, can build a more stable and prosperous future.”