anglophone regions of cameroon

A new wave of abuses in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, HRW warns

A new wave of abuses in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon by both government security forces and armed separatists highlights the urgent need to protect communities at risk and hold abusers accountable.

That is the warning launched by Human Rights Watch through a report in which the organization denounces that the Cameroonian security forces have killed two civilians, raped a 53-year-old woman, destroyed and ransacked at least 33 houses, shops, and the building of a traditional leader in the Northwest Region on 8 and 9 June 2021.

The document also learns that armed separatist fighters in the southwest area killed a 12-year-old boy on June 6 and a 51-year-old teacher on July 1. In addition, on June 25, secessionist soldiers in the northwest region kidnapped four aid workers and held them overnight.

“Cameroon security forces must legally counter-attack by armed separatist groups and protect people’s rights during times of violence,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior HRW researcher. “But once again, we learn that they have responded to the threat from separatist groups with attacks on civilians and serious human rights violations on their part.”

HRW recalls that since the Anglophone crisis began in late 2016, government forces have regularly committed severe human rights violations during security operations against armed separatists fighting to create an independent Anglophone state of “Ambazonia.”

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Between 12 and 23 June, Human Rights Watch conducted telephone interviews with ten victims and witnesses of human rights violations by the security forces and 18 relatives of the victims, journalists, and civil society activists. In addition, the human rights organization corroborated the victims’ accounts and witnesses with photographs provided by the victims of the violence.

The report highlights how violence by security forces and armed separatists in the Northwest and Southwest regions has caused a severe humanitarian crisis. Cameroon has 712,000 internally displaced people in the English-speaking areas, the Littoral and the western areas, and the neighboring Central region. At least 2.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

However, HRW points out that humanitarian access is severely limited, and government forces and armed separatist militias have attacked humanitarian workers.

The Human Rights organization also reports that separatist fighters have hindered the access of humanitarian agencies to areas under their control. For example, a local humanitarian group told HRW that on June 25, separatist fighters from Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) stopped their vehicle in Guzang, in the northwestern region, kidnapped four staff members inside, and they beat one up, only to release them the following day.

An ADF spokesperson said the organization had not received approval to go onto the street, so they were treated as suspects until they verified their identity. But he denied that they were kidnapped.