Local authorities in Cameroon’s troubled English-speaking region of Northwest said Friday that 31 armed separatists have laid down their weapons and begun re-integration process into society.
“We have 31 ex-fighters who have already dropped their weapons and have come to the re-integration center. Twenty-five boys and six girls. We have been informed that three others are at the general’s office pending transfer to the center,” Sixtus Gabsa, Northwest regional director of the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee (NDDRC), said during an evaluation meeting in the town of Bamenda.
Officials said the initiative provided a “dignified” way out for ex-combatants and prospects for social reintegration, and should pave the way for a return to calm and normalcy.
“I call on each and everyone to mobilize and ask our young people who are still in the bushes to come to the disarmament center. They will be well received, trained and will face no legal charges,” said Adolphe Lele Lafrique, the Northwest region’s governor.
The NDDRC was created by President Paul Biya last year “to avoid the use of extreme measures” and supervise and manage the disarmament and reintegration of ex-combatants of Boko Haram and armed groups in the Anglophone regions of Northwest and Southwest.
Clashes between government forces and armed separatists are escalating in the English-speaking regions of the country since November 2017. The minority English-speakers of largely French-speaking Cameroon want to create a nation they called “Ambazonia.”