Cameroon: Strengthening Community-Based Protection in the Context of the Anglophone Crisis

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Participants at the workshop on strengthening communities participation mechanism and coping strategies
Participants at the workshop on strengthening communities participation mechanism and coping strategies

The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA Friday, July 10, 2020, held a one-day workshop at Mile 16, South West Region on the theme “Analyzing and Strengthening Communities Protection Mechanisms and Coping Strategies, and Setting up Early Warning Systems.”

The workshop was realized with support from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Yaounde.

According to a note from CHRDA, during the first session of the workshop, participants enumerated the different protection mechanisms and coping strategies they have been using since the start of the Anglophone crisis ranging from hiding in the bushes, going to the farm in groups to outright displacement from areas of heavy fighting.

Together with the resource person, participants analyzed these different protection mechanisms and coping strategies to determine which of them could be harmful (prostitution and survival sex); which hurt family unity (sending young girls and boys away for fear they could be raped or forcefully recruited into armed fighting groups respectively); and which are acceptable and thus should be encouraged and strengthened.

This first session also exhorted humanitarian organizations to involve community members in all protection activities in a substantial and meaningful way from problem diagnosis to design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation because community members are best placed to understand their problems, the causes and effects and what the solutions are. They are the experts and humanitarian organizations should support and assist them with material and financial resources, and capacity building.

In the second session on the theme of Early Warning System, participants and the facilitator analyzed various signs that pre-date a conflict, signs that if well-read and understood might permit community members to take necessary measures to protect themselves or flee the potential conflict area.

There was also a discussion on early warning strategies that can be useful during an actual conflict like posting scouts at elevated points at the entrance of communities to spot movement or approach of government troops or armed fighters susceptible to commit human rights violations and alert the rest of the community.

Violence in Cameroon’s two-English speaking regions broke out in 2016 following the government’s crackdown of peaceful protest of teachers and lawyers who complained of marginalization. Non-state armed groups took up arms and demanded separation from La Republic du Cameroun.

The ongoing squabbles have caused more than 3,000 deaths and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Some have taken up refuge in other regions while others are refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

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