By Boris Esono Nwenfor
For decades now, Cameroon has been engulfed by various crises raging from the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, the refugee crisis in the East Region and for the last three years, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions. To bring peace to the country, Cameroonians have advocated the protection of the country’s borders, involving youths in decision-making and dialogue.
The event which was held October 18, 2019 in Limbe under the theme, “Common sense solutions to promote peace in Cameroon” is in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, (a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation), whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth, and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy, and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries.
The event is the third of its kind after similar events in Yaounde and Douala. It brought together students, Religious leader, members of the private sector and journalists to propose citizen solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolution of the current conflicts it is presently facing.
During the discussions, three prominent conflicts were x-rayed by participants such as the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, since, 2013 till date, and Refugee crisis in the East Regions.
According to some participants, the issue of dialogue in solving crisis is very paramount. Dialogue implies the ability of the two warring factions to be able to sit on the dialogue table and sought their differences. With the case of Cameroon and the Anglophone crisis, participants indicated that both the government and the separatist should call for dialogue which will ease the prevailing situation presently ongoing in the North West and South west Regions.
Participants equally decried the numerous Lockdown and ghost towns that have been instituted by the fighters as it is having an adverse effect on the population and families as the economies in the region is in a bad state. They have equally called on the Diaspora leaders to rethink their strategy while also cautioning the fighters to go back to the original struggle as they have departed from it.
“It is not good with the present situation in the South west and North West for families to be confined in their houses for a week or more with the ghost town calls”, one participant noted while another stated “the youths should be involved in the decision-making process. The government has to accept the present situation on the ground, but at the moment they are still casual on the lives lost.”
Since October 2016, at least 170 civilians have been killed in over 220 incidents…according to media reports and Human rights Watch research. International crisis group has said the death toll since the start of the fighting has topped 500 for civilians and more than 200 for members of the security forces. Some 437,000 people have fled the fighting according to the United Nations.
With the Boko Haram crisis in the North, participants called for the implementation of a serious educational strategy. To a participant, most of the people in the North are uneducated and without jobs and it is easy brainwash the people. There needs to be a serious rethink of the educational system, so that individuals in the North can be educated and have jobs for themselves.”
Participants have called for the protection of the borders as a means of limiting the damages being caused by the Boko Haram sect. Without the borders being protected, it will make it easy for the group to infiltrate the country and continue its fight to get more people into their group and cause more damage. Protection here will entail the provision of security personnel at the borders, especially in the Far North Region to curb the rate of suicide attacks on the population in that area.
On the Refugee crisis in the East Region, participants have urged the Cameroon government to assist the Central African Republic, CAR to bring an end to the crisis. To participants, if the Cameroon government assist CAR in solving their crisis, the people will see no reason to become refugees in Cameroon as their country will be free to live in.
To others, humanitarian bodies, and the international communities have to be involved to bring an end to the crisis in the East. They are involved in calling for an end to the crisis, and for the two warring factions to come to a consensus. The humanitarian organizations on their part are charged with providing aids to the host country (Cameroon) which is keeping most of the displaced persons.