By Prince Kurupati
The new United Nations Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet in her opening statement at the ongoing 39th session of the Human Rights Council expressed concern over the ‘worsening’ Cameroon crisis. Michelle Bachelet who took over from Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein did not waste time in launching a scathing attack of the reluctance of the Yaoundé to address the ongoing conflict between the government forces and the separatists.
In her opening remarks, Michelle Bachelet lamented the reluctance of the Cameroon government to move swiftly in bringing to an end the Anglophone crisis. Taking a cue from Bachelet’s opening remarks, it’s safe to say that she thinks that the Cameroon government is primarily the main actor that can calm down the tension in the country paving way for peace. The reluctance therefore of the government has not only brought untold suffering to the affected but it has also ‘discouraged’ others local and international actors who may have played a key role in bringing the crisis to an end.
In order to fully reveal how the reluctance of the Cameroon government has led to the suffering of thousands of people in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon, Bachelet spoke about the economic, social and educational impact of hostilities by government forces and separatists.
Economically, trade between Cameroon and other countries and also intra-trade has been hugely affected. There is also a probability that a prolonged crisis in the country will isolate the country and may potentially lead the UN and other powerful countries to place economic sanctions on Cameroon which would seriously affect the economic prospects of the country.
Socially, the crisis has led to the disintegration of friendships and family relations. Perhaps more importantly, the divisions which have been (and are still being) created by the crisis may become entrenched. Even if an agreement is reached to end the crisis, the divisions that have been created between Anglophone Cameroon and Francophone Cameroon may last for years if not eternity.
The attack on teachers and students in the northwest and southwest Cameroon has led to the closing of virtually all schools in this part of the country. This has a negative impact on the educational growth of students and may affect Anglophone Cameroon for generations.
Furthermore, Bachelet said that the crisis is a serious threat to the country’s democracy. Due to fear of reprisals, Bachelet said that some potential candidates may fail to participate in the upcoming presidential elections.
Bachelet in her statement placed the number of people who have fled their homes in fear of attacks from the government forces at 180 000. She said that the majority of these people are in serious need of humanitarian assistance.
In her closing remarks, Bachelet said that the Cameroon government holds the key to ending the crisis in the country. She said the government has failed to act in promoting “the conference on dialogue suggested by religious leaders, and there is still no mechanism in place which could envisage a halt in hostilities in the short term.” This, therefore, is a huge problem as the government is showing no desire to halt the hostilities. Bachelet urged the Cameroon government to do its duty as a government so that it stops the killings of hundreds of civilians.
Bachelet continues on the same path as her predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein who constantly reminded the Cameroon government of its main duty as a government like protecting its citizens both from external and internal forces.