Since the outbreak of hostilities in the Anglophone regions of the country, resulting in what has now evidently developed into a full scale war, a high number of civilian casualties have been recorded. In consequence, this has unavoidably attracted a level of world attention, to the extent that a few humanitarian organisations have voluntarily waded into the situation to at least alleviate the suffering of the unfortunate victims of this crisis.
One of these happens to be the international non-governmental organization, “Doctors Without Borders”, DWB, which is reputed for its services in conflict situations such as ours. Unfortunately, for quite some time now, the government of Cameroon does not seem to feel comfortable with the presence of this organisation and the quality of its services in the crisis. Government has been accusing it of collaborating with the Separatists fighters, resulting to the suspension of the operations of the organisation since 2020 in the North West Region, which happens to be the hardest hit zone in the crisis.
Doctors Without Borders however continued to stay in the region rather redundantly and helpless, while hundreds of victims of the armed conflict remained deprived of free medical attention.
For example, according to DWB sources, since December 2020, a total of 300 persons have called for DWB ambulance and medical services at very desperate moments to no avail. We in this Newspaper consider government’s decision rather too harsh because it only exposes innocent civilians to unbearable conditions that ultimately will only lead to deaths under circumstances were rescue was close and possible.
It is even more unfortunate that DWB last week decided to pull out of the region. According to a release, their reason for going this far was because they could stay no longer in a region where they are not allowed to provide medical care to those who badly need it. Looking at it from another perspective, it could have been quite another matter if the victims were real enemies in a war between two different peoples of two different countries. But this is a case of an armed conflict between brothers.
The obvious is that, even this argument is out of context, in as much as humanitarian considerations in a miserable situation such as ignoring the victims of an armed conflict are concerned, no matter the form or nature of such a conflict.
We certainly can understand government’s concern if the accusations are justified without reasonable doubts. But doubts have surfaced as DWB have persistently denied the accusations. Whichever the case if government has already taken the suspension option, we would suggest that it does not last forever. Let it be short term to enable DWB to be able to discover where things went wrong and thus compel them to re-adjust, if in fact their mission binds them to the ethics of their profession.
We think a very long term suspension is not the best or only option for both parties to come to an understanding on the issue. This will be necessary in the best interest of the miserable victims who are dying in silence while eyes are turned away from our humanitarian responsibility on both sides of the conflict.
Our main fear is that this is likely to development into an insinuation that government enjoys the misery of the population and intends to use it as a weapon of war to weaken whatever will of the population. Certainly, if their will to resist any attempts of government to solve the crisis the way it is determined to do it, it will without any argument be considered as the last available weapon of war. A deadly one, indeed.