Cameroon: Voluntary Repatriation, Community led initiatives, Empowering Youths, advanced in solving crisis in Cameroon
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
As a way of bringing peace to Cameroon which is experiencing various crisis ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, the Refugee crisis in the east Region and the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions, participants have advanced various points ranging from voluntary repatriation of refugees in the East, Empowering of the youths and community led initiatives.
The event which was held November 8, 2019 in Buea under the theme “Common sense solutions to promote peace in Cameroon and the role of the civil society organizations” 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.
During the discussions, three prominent conflicts were x-rayed by participants such as: the on-going 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.
On the Refugee crisis in the East Region, it was indicated that Cameroon plays host to some 361,000 refugees from Nigeria and Central African Republic, CAR and some 257,000 refugees from CAR alone.
To Mbeng Primus, the government has to provide grazing land to the refugees so that they can feed their cattle. He said, “The problem is the East may go on for long if the government fails to provide grazing land as the cattle of the refugees are feeding on the crops of the host country.”
“The community leaders should equally accept the refuges and work with them so as to reduce the tension” He added while adding that “All we want is peace and we have to do everything we can to achieve peace.”
As a solution to the refugee crisis, participants said the voluntary repatriation of the refugees to their said country may go a long way in bringing peace to the East Region. They equally called on the Cameroonian government to assist the CAR in bringing peace to the country as a stable CAR will make it easier for the displaced persons to be willing to go back to their country.
Cameroon recently carried out a voluntary repatriation of refugees in the East Region who were willing to go back to their country. According to the government, these people (refugees) opted to go back to their country and they were not forced to leave Cameroon.
Others propose a pathway for nationalization in Cameroon. Participants say when these people (refugees) are integrated into the Cameroonian society; it will reduce the violence in the region. They however noted that such a process (nationalization) is very complicated in Cameroon and may take time to be implemented.
With the Boko Haram crisis in the North, participants called on individuals and government to know the root cause of the insurgency as they cannot solve a problem when they do not know the background of the grievance.
Others say to prevent further recruitment of Cameroonian into Boko Haram; youths should be empowered with the provision of education and necessary skills which will help them in getting jobs for themselves. These empowerment centres will prevent Boko Haram from indoctrinating the youths to carryout heinous activities on the population in the North.
The Imams of the North have been encouraged to be empowered to talk to children in the area by giving them more knowledge and education as Boko Haram is fighting a religious war. “The Imams who are well respected should provide education and train the youths on values”, noted one participant.
Talking to PAV Che Bruno, Communications unit CHRDA, called on wealthy individuals to invest more by creating SMEs which will help youths in the North not to be recruited by Boko Harm. “They should provide ideas/ideologies which will make young people realize that it is not only through violence that they can make a living but there are different ways, and where these youths need assistance private individuals and organizations should be ready to provide the financial support,” He said
He added, “The civil society has a great role to play in solving crisis in Cameroon. They are involve in Education (sensitizing the public on the need for peace), advocacy (engaging stakeholders/government to create enabling environment for peace to strive), and direct support (CSOs provide financial support for peace who want to build peace and the respect for human rights).”
The event is the fourth of its kind after similar events in Yaounde, Douala, and Limbe. It brought together students, members of the private sector, civil society organizations and journalists to proposed grass root solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolution of the current conflicts it is presently facing.