By NOELA EBOB BISONG
Guinean born François Louncény Fall, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa on Tuesday, June 4 2019, requested the need for partners to increase humanitarian assistance to address the situation ongoing in Cameroon’s troubled North West and South West Regions.
While briefing the Security Council members, the UN Central African Representative stated that the rate of the execution of the UN Humanitarian Response Plan in Cameroon stands barely at 13 percent, inadequate for the situation on ground in Cameroon’s two restive regions, which he maintains remains preoccupying, as the populations of the North West and South West are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
François Louncény Fall said the UN has noted steps taken by the Cameroon government to address the situation, especially with regards to the visit of high profile personalities in the country calling for humanitarian assistance and inclusive dialogue, notably the recent visit of the Prime Minister, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute to Cameroon’s North West and South West regions.
Fall reminded all parties to bear in mind the declaration of the Secretary General on the territorial integrity of Cameroon, but challenged the Government of Cameroon to spearhead actions to bring lasting peace.
As a matter of fact, he states “Conducting inclusive dialogue is the best way to guarantee stability in the country”.
Fall also urged government to accelerate its decentralisation process while pledging UN’s support to peace efforts.
Member States declare stance on Cameroon’s armed conflict
Following the briefing, UNSC member states declared their stance on the prevailing situation in Cameroon.
The representative of the United States cited reports to the effect that 17 per cent of Cameroon’s population need assistance and that aid convoys are being blocked and also mass arrests of demonstrators. He welcomed the Cameroon Government’s plan to address the crisis, while maintaining that its efforts must be transparent and impartial in order to succeed.
China, on her part backed the government of Cameroon, holding that the Council must respect Cameroon’s territorial integrity and support its efforts to find solutions to its current challenges. While the international community should adopt an integrated approach to recent developments on the ground, States must make their own decisions on issues ranging from development to fighting the trafficking of drugs and weapons.
The Russian Federation’s representative described Central Africa as the key to combating terrorism throughout the continent, including by fighting the illegal movement of drugs, weapons and natural resources. To do so, Russia says regional multinational armed forces must have adequate financing to pursue and eradicate terrorist fighters, adding that regional players must set the tone in overcoming crises and settling conflicts.
The United Kingdom acknowledged Cameroon’s territorial integrity, but called on the Government to translate its “laudable” peace endeavours into reality in order to bring peace to the Anglophone regions. She also expressed concerns over the decreasing space for political opposition, civil society and free media throughout the region, describing such groups as fundamental building blocks of long-term stability.
France stated its preoccupation with the degrading situation in the two regions and appealed for access of humanitarian assistance. While calling for the end to violence. She also urged the Government to speed up preparations for the dialogue which “must be political and inclusive.”
Poland on her part called for inclusive dialogue and also frowned at violence by Government troops and separatist fighters. She equally beseeched Cameroon’s President, Biya to allow the UN conduct a humanitarian assessment mission to better have an understanding of the needs of the displaced population.
Belgium commended the briefing of the UN representative for Central Africa, and expressed worries that the conflict might escalate if not well handled. She proposed that a solution must involve Regional and sub regional bodies, as well as internal partners.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative agreed that the Central African countries themselves must drive a regional approach to the challenge and others, with other Council members also expressing robust support for regional actors.
South Africa’s representative emphasized that coherence and coordination among UNOCA, UNOWAS, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the African Union will help to strengthen responses to Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Human Rights Watch, 8 others task UNSC to discuss Cameroon’s armed conflict
It should be recalled that prior to the briefing, Human Rights Watch wrote jointly with other 8 human rights organizations calling on the United Nations Security Council to focus on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Cameroon. The statement which was signed by all nine institutions including Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France), Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Human Rights Watch, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme Cameroun, Presbyterian Church (USA), Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) stated that “These abuses are fomenting severe instability across the regions and show that the government of Cameroon is failing to uphold its Responsibility to Protect the Anglophone population. Without expeditious action, the situation is likely to worsen. The UN Security Council has largely kept silent on the crisis. Even getting the Council to discuss Cameroon has proven difficult”. The statement further outlined five key issues that ought to be tackled by the UNSC to redress the armed conflict in Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions, including the UNSC holding regular formal briefings and discussions on the situation.