By LUSY LIMA
For the past three years following the outbreak of the Anglophone Crisis in the North West and South West, NOSO, regions of Cameroon, human rights groups, Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, have in one voice condemned the extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians including children and pregnant women, and burning of houses by the military, with the greatest victims being those with relatives abroad.
Reports indicate that about 3,000 civilians’ lives have been claimed by the arm conflict, and about 730,000 displaced, with many living horrible lives in neighbouring Nigeria. The recent killings of civilians by the military in Ngarbuh village in the North West Region, has received widespread condemnation across the board including the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, the European Union, the USA, UK, France, and the Nobel Women’s Initiative. It should be recalled that on February 14, 2020 the Cameroon military with the assistance of 30 armed Fulani militiamen stormed the village of Ngarbuh and killed 21 civilians including 13 children and a pregnant woman.
Despite the documented compelling evidence published by New York Times Journal and corroborated by Human Rights Watch, the New Humanitarian Cameroonian Civil Society Organisation and the Catholic Church accusing the Cameroon army for the massacre, the Government has formally denied her responsibility for the killings in Ngarbuh. The Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, has instead faulted national and international organisations including the media, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs for fuelling terrorism, destabilising Cameroon and fake reports to tarnish the image of the country’s security forces.
As the killing of civilians, predominantly by the military, in the two restive North West and South West regions continue unabated, keen observers have noted that the military targets mostly those whose relations are living abroad. This is backed by government’s belief that the crisis is being fanned from abroad .The horrific scene in Ngarbuh village is not different from what happened in Wowo, a neighbouring village in May 4 2019. Reports hold that military forces invaded Wowo village killing in cold blood unarmed civilians including Nfor Alfred and Nfor Vitalise and many others with flimsy reasons that their family relations abroad in the likes of Nfor Dieudonne´ and Tamnjong Emmanuel are amongst others fanning the crisis from abroad.
Human Rights Watch have documented multiple abusive counter insurgency operations by the security forces in the North West Region since 2017, which it Central Africa Director Lewis Mudge has never failed to condemn. He described the Ngarbuh Massacre as ” a prime example of the impunity for the Cameroon security Forces”.
As the war rages on with many more killings by the military documented by rights organisations, the government has launched a man hunt for those alleged to be fanning the crisis both at home and abroad. Terrorism charges hang on them if arrested as they have been declared wanted.
Recently, French President, Emmanuel Macron, promised to exert “maximum pressure” on President Paul Biya of Cameroon to end Cameroon’s intolerable Human Rights violations.
Youths caught in the web
Many youths in the English-speaking North West and South West regions are reported to be entangled due to the Anglophone crisis that has been raging on since 2016. Cases abound and many no longer see Cameroon as a safe place for them.
The life of a 35- year-old holder of a Bachelor’s degree in English Private Law from the University of Yaounde is very uncomfortable due to the crisis.
Adeline Nsabou a mother of one from Kumba, South West Region, is in trouble because her family has been tagged by the Yaounde regime as part of the secessionist group “aimed at destabilising the country”. Her two brothers have already been labelled “Ambazonians” because of their involvement in the Southern Cameroons self-determination struggle. As a result, their family residence in Kumba was razed to the ground in July 2019 by the military, forcing them to go the bush for safety, and their whereabouts is still cloudy.
This move has played a great deal in the life of Adeline Nsabou, who for fear of being arrested by the military, finds it difficult to come back to Cameroon. Reports say Nsabou is under police searchlight just like most other Southern Cameroonians in the Diaspora for financing separatist movements and groups, who are clamouring for the restoration of the statehood of Southern Cameroons. Reports hold that as the current arm conflict rages on with a long lasting solution to the crisis still a dream to come true, Nsabou is presently in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, where she is married to a national since 2015.
The crisis has become too intense, forcing youths to flee to safer grounds, while others considered to be separatist fighters are standing trial at the Yaounde Military Court with terrorism charges against them. Even those abroad considered as activists preaching against the marginalisation of Southern Cameroons by the Yaoundé regime have equally been declared enemies of the State of Cameroon and have been tagged for prosecution.