The international community has failed to adequately respond to years of deadly conflict in Ambazonia
Populations in the Anglophone north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon remain at risk of atrocities amidst ongoing clashes between government forces and armed separatist groups. On 11 August Human Rights Watch reported that between 24 April and 12 June 2022 at least 10 people were summarily killed by Cameroonian security forces during military operations against armed separatists groups. During the operations soldiers burned homes and destroyed and looted health facilities and shops. Armed separatists perpetrated grave human rights abuses during the same period, including killing and kidnapping civilians. Separatists have also continued their assault on education, attacking students, teachers and schools. Human Rights Watch documented that at least 33 students and five teachers were kidnapped by armed separatists since January.
Populations in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have faced widespread violence since tensions over cultural rights and marginalization of Anglophone populations escalated in October 2016. In the resulting clashes, government forces and armed separatist groups have perpetrated grave violations and abuses that may amount to atrocities, including extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture. Since the crisis began, more than 6,000 civilians have been killed and at least 666,000 displaced. Few perpetrators have been held accountable.
Since 2021 the government has intensified its attacks against armed separatist strongholds in attempts to end the conflict. During military operations, government forces have routinely targeted civilian populations for their alleged cooperation with separatist groups. Armed separatists have retaliated by using more deadly weapons, including improvised explosive devices and anti-tank rocket launchers, putting civilians at increased risk. Separatist groups have also expanded their sources of revenue through kidnapping and extortion in the north-west and south-west. Civilians are also at risk of targeted attacks by armed separatists for their suspected collaboration with the government.
Juliette Paauwe, Cameroon Expert at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said that, “despite escalating violence, the international community has failed to adequately respond to years of deadly conflict in Cameroon. While long overdue, the African Union (AU) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) must help establish a comprehensive ceasefire to address the growing atrocity risks faced by civilian populations in the Anglophone regions.” The AU and UNSC should also facilitate an inclusive dialogue between the government, separatist groups and Anglophone communities, mediated by a neutral player on neutral territory. Security forces must end all extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians and ensure that the human rights of all Cameroonians are equally protected, regardless of cultural identity. Armed separatist groups must also halt attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.