The UN and its various agencies have to step up and Speak out on the crisis
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The conflict in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions has been the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world for two consecutive years, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (2019, and 2020).
Speaking during The Oxford Conference on US Senate Resolution 684 on Wednesday, February 17, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has made it clear that what is ongoing in the Anglophone Regions is “a senseless war.”
Dr Fomunyoh spoke on the role of the international community, including the USA with regards to the implementation of resolution 684.
Despite the polarization that has been witnessed in US policies for some years now, the US Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion and adopt this resolution (684) on January 1, 2021.
Resolution 684 by the US Senate calls for an end to all violence; respect for the human rights of all Cameroonians, and the pursuit of genuinely inclusive dialogue with a credible third party towards resolving the ongoing civil conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.
“We see promise in the US Senate that they are not going to stop at that but they will engage and hope to transform the resolution into a bill and legislation that will have a benchmark and bring the conflict to an end,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated.
The Norwegian Refugee Council for two years has stated that the conflict taking place in former British Southern Cameroon is the most underreported in the world. This according to the Senior Associate for Africa needs to change and more have to be done by various actors at the international level.
“The SG (of the Norwegian Refugee Council) is one of the highest-profile personalities to visit the conflict zones. Many have sat in their offices across the world and issued statements without making the efforts to go see for themselves the lives that are being lost and the destruction,” Dr Fomunyoh said.
“The US Holocaust Museum, highly reputable has now classified Cameroon as one of the priority countries in its Genocide Prevention Centre which is a wakeup call for all of us.”
On how the UN should act on the Anglophone crisis that sees no end in sight at the moment, Dr Fomunyoh said the UN needs to step up and speak out. To him, Resolution 2532 issued by the UN SG (calling for a ceasefire by both sides of the conflict due to the COVID pandemic) was not respected in Cameroon as some of the worst atrocities through 2020 happened right in the tick of COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated: “As the world is entering the second wave of the COVID-19, we have to be sensitized as to the fact that that resolution was not implemented and if we do not have an immediate ceasefire, the impact of the conflict is going to be aggravated by the second wave of the pandemic.”
One of the most important works that the UN is expected to do according to Dr Fomunyoh is for them to organize a delegation and conduct a fact-finding mission in Cameroon with the UN Human Rights Council best suited for that.
“Since 2019 the official deaths in this conflict has stayed unbelievable at 3,000, whereas we know that people are being killed daily and even since January 2021, more than 60 people have already been killed. Yet, on all official report, you see it refers to 3,000 deaths. The data on this crisis is underreported due to so many factors (blackouts in the country and the difficulties faced by humanitarian organizations).”
UN Agencies have to raise their voices. The horrible things that are happening fall within the jurisdiction of various UN agencies but yet we are not seeing the sense of urgency that ought to be applied to this case.
“UNICEF for example ought to be shouting on rooftops with regards to the plight of the children caught in this conflict. UN Women (we hear about prostitution, violence against women) should be out there high lightening the plight of women, children and young girls as a result of the crisis,” Dr Fomunyoh added.
“WHO, we have heard about the burning of health facilities, armed groups or soldiers in uniforms going into health facilities allegedly looking for members of armed groups. These are things that have to be talked about by UN agencies to bring more credibility to the reporting we see on the ground.”
Speaking on the role of the US administration, Christopher Fomunyoh says the new administration has started on the right foot. President Joe Biden has made several moves that shows that the US is back to lead the way in terms of democracy. The Secretary of state, Anthony Blinken in his confirmation made specific references to Cameroon as one of the priority areas of concern.
“Congress has an important role to play in bringing an end to the crisis. We are fortunate to see that for the first time in American history the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is an African-American, who knows the continent,” Dr Fomunyoh stated while adding that “I hope that he will use his influence so that the executive get the resources that they need to be able to implement policies that will bring peace in Cameroon.”