Bishops warn of ‘growing genocide’ in Cameroon

May 12, 2018 by

by Harriet Paterson, The Tablet:

“They are hunting us,” murmurs a secondary school teacher, turning his back to the camera and asking not to be named. “The Cameroon government security forces were entering villages and killing unarmed people. Bodies have been found in forests, they used every method and means to kill. It’s a huge number of fatalities.”

Nearly 26,000 people, four-fifths of them women and children, have fled into Nigeria from Southern Cameroon. The number has doubled since January, according to Caritas Internationalis and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). More are arriving daily, while an estimated 40,000 people are displaced inside Cameroon. Political upheaval is provoking an under-reported humanitarian crisis in both countries, with refugees flooding into Nigeria’s border states carrying nothing but their children and the clothes on their backs.

The refugees tell the same story over and again, of a brutal crackdown by the Cameroon military against anyone suspected of sympathising with the secessionist movement of the English-speaking minority. Known as the Anglophone crisis, Cameroon’s English-speaking Catholic bishops have described it as “a growing genocide”, although there are no reliable data on how many have died.

The secondary schoolteacher, as an activist who has spoken out for the Anglophone cause, has taken refuge in Nigeria. But he still feels unsafe. “Recently, Cameroonians, especially young men, have been arrested by Nigerian security forces,” he explains. “So we are scared. Many activists and non-activists have been targeted, some are in prison living in hideous conditions, some of our leaders have disappeared, others killed.”

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