By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Three school children and their teacher are said to have been killed, while others were left injured after gunmen attacked a school in Ekondo Titi, Ndian Division of the South West Region of Cameroon.
The attack that happened at about 8 am local time this Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at the Government Bilingual High School, GBHS, is said to have been orchestrated by members linked to the separatist groups in the area who are seeking autonomy from the rest of the country. An improvised explosive device, IED, is said to have been used.
Emmanuel Orume (12-years), Joyceline Ikem (16), Kum Emmanuel (17) was killed as a result of the attack while a teacher Celestine Song also lost her life. No reason has been given for this latest “atrocity.”
The social media space in Cameroon is flooded with pictures of the lifeless bodies of the children on the ground with their uniforms stained with blood and other gruesome pictures. Many have condemned this attack with one saying “there is nowhere again safe in this country for children to go to school.”
Activist Edith Kah Walla tweeted: “Again. A school attacked. Children and their teachers were killed. Unidentified gunmen… I still do not understand the logic of killing the people as you say you fight for them. It is simply too much.”
This latest attack on school-going children is bringing back to light a worrying trend that sees educational establishments and school children being attacked. At the height of the crisis in 2018 and 2019, scores of educational establishments were attacked with the children and teachers warned not to go back to school again.
Attacks on schools seemed to have boiled down with factions of the separatist groups even voting in favour of allowing children to sit in classes. Other groups have, however, been opposed to this call and have been persistently threatening carnage on those going to schools or establishments that open their doors.
There were 35 attacks on schools in the unstable regions of Cameroon in 2019, according to UNICEF-verified data. In 2020, some 17 attacks were recorded, though the figures could be higher.
“These attacks are unacceptable,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa back in November 2020. “Schools are places of learning where children should feel safe and protected. We call on all parties to protect children, at school or in their communities and to uphold the principles of the Safe School Declaration, which calls for stopping attacks on schools, education facilities and personnel.”