Gov’t should dialogue with Separatist leaders — Citizens propose as solution to Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
For the past three years the Cameroon’s defense and security forces have been fighting separatist fighters in the North West and South west Regions. The crisis has led to many killed, maimed, kidnapped for ransom, while others have become refugees or internally displaced persons.
As a solution to this crisis, Cameroonians say the government should dialogue with the leaders of this movement to solve the crisis. They equally propose various solutions to the numerous crises that Cameroon is presently going through, such as the Refugee crisis in the East, and the Boko Haram insurgency.
They were speaking in Bamenda, North West Region of Cameroon on December 19, 2019, during the 6th edition of the Common Sense Solution to Promote Peace in Cameroon, organized by the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation in partnership with the Canadian fun for Local Development in Cameroon.
The last Major National Dialogue organized in Cameroon’s political capital Yaounde according to many was a non-event taking into consideration the fact that the separatist leaders were absent and still being incarcerated at the Kondengui Maximum prison. Many saw these are the people who can lead any talks with Yaounde to look for lasting solution to the crisis.
Others called for the creation of jobs for the youths. This will make them (youths) to be gainfully employed which will prevent them from associating themselves with bad companies, with majority of the fighters being youths.
The conflict has severely hurt the timber, agro-industry, cocoa, energy, telecommunications, tourism, and transport sectors. Given the failure of various internal initiatives to halt the crisis and bring peace to these regions of Cameroon, the government of Cameroon has been urged by US Congress members to engage in the Swiss-led facilitation process, which could lead to future negotiations between the Cameroonian government, and the opposition in the Northwest and Southwest, as well as the diaspora.
According to the United Nations, as of November 2019, more than 2,000 people have died, as many as 71 0,000 people have been internally displaced, and 44,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Nigeria due to the ongoing conflict in the Northwest and Southwest. Roughly 2.6 million people in these areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 855,000 children, the majority of whom are internally displaced, do not have access to education.
During the event, major topics were looked at such as the Refugee crisis in the East Region of Cameroon, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions, and the role of civil society organizations in the promotion of peace.
On the refugee crisis in the East Region of Cameroon participants indicated there should be collaboration from all parties involved while also calling for the strengthening of the political and economic ties between the two countries. They also indicated that economic opportunities should be created for the refugees.
“We have decided to embark on a contemporary approach that encourages greater citizen participation in promoting peace in their communities,” Team Lead Barrister Doris Agbor said.
The common sense solution to promote peace in Cameroon was in its sixth edition in Bamenda with similar events organized in Dschang, Yaounde, Douala, Limbe, and Buea.
Participants have called on CSOs to avoid misusing money giving to them to assist victims of conflicts. “CSOs should not only focus on giving donations but also should be able to impact directly the lives of those in conflict zones,” a participant said.
To Binsinla Desire, “Organizations should be more involved in providing things that will have more impact to the Displaced persons. Most of them provide bags for rice — which is equally important but how do you impact the lives of these people. CSOs should have more capacity building workshops for these displaced persons which will have more impact to their lives than the food that they get – as they will always demand more but when they know how to work and earn for themselves it will help a lot.”