By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The need for a ceasefire, the acceptance of peace, psychosocial support, and employment of youths has been proposed as strategies to promote peacebuilding and justice in Cameroon.
Persons drawn across from various sectors were speaking during the seventh NED Debate (Webinar) this May 6, 2020, on strategies to peacebuilding and justice in Cameroon organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank (research centre) of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.
Mindful of the present health pandemic across the globe, and Cameroon government’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Nkafu Policy Institute resulted to a webinar that brought together participants from the public, private, and civil society sectors, including journalists, researchers, and students who have the potential to propose common-sense solutions to the current crises in Cameroon.
During the event, there were presentations on major facts about the history and current crises in Cameroon, and various possible strategies for effective peacebuilding and justice with areas of focus centered on the political, economic, social strategies, and the role of the civil society organizations (including religious bodies) in achieving peace and justice.
Participants at the event noted that the government should recheck its strategy in the North West and South West Regions, and those who have committed atrocities be held accountable.
In his presentation, Mofor Wopimazi, Humanitarian worker called for the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to be created to look into the root causes of the conflict in NOSO and to bring about the truth of human rights violations. “There should be the protection of vulnerable groups which involves IDPs, Refugees, and children. Those who have violated human rights should be put to justice.”
During various question and answer sessions, participants presented probable solutions to numerous crises in Cameroon. “The truth is the historical background must be looked at, and if not solved we will come back to violence,” Yvonne Muma Bih, Activist and Chairperson of CAWOPEM said while responding to solutions to the Anglophone crisis. “Government measures have been too elitists. The grass root population has to be in the solution process. Inclusive participation should be looked at bringing together everyone including women to look for a solution to the crisis in the English-speaking parts of the country.”
“The Grand National Dialogue was too elitists,” another participant noted. “We should start from the bottom before reaching any major dialogue process. Women and girls have been greatly affected as most have been raped, with children, and are school dropouts. These girls need re-education (third-generation education) and to be gainfully employed.”
For the economic strategies, participants called for employment of the youths across the country. “The government should rethink its vocational training strategy,” one participant said.
“I think a ceasefire is the first thing before we can achieve any meaningful economic comeback,” Nanji Cyprian said.
Mofor Wopimazi noted that the cash for work project that was instituted is already working in some regions such as the East and North regions. He, however, said such project may not work in the North West and South West regions due to the security situation of the regions.
This debate was in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, 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.
A concept note from the foundation notes that Cameroon’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritages that once contributed to making it a country of peace and stability, are today at the root of many conflicts that the country is currently facing. “An upsurge of violence witnessed by various regions seem to put Cameroon at crossroads in its history,” part of the concept note read. “The consequences of these conflicts are so devastating that it appears urgent to propose solid strategies to peacebuilding and justice.”
“From a social perspective, the state needs to put in place a level playing ground for all its citizens where everyone is giving a chance to excel through their talents. This will definitely tone down the frustrations which in the long run lead to conflict situations,” Joyce.
“There is a need for psychosocial support to help the affected population gain some degree of self-confidence. This is because most of the population have gone through traumatic situations and have lost a lot,” Hernica wrote.