Ahead of the upcoming briefing of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) in the UN Security Council in June, we, the undersigned organizations, would urge you to please pay particular attention to the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Cameroon.
Political conflict over cultural rights and identity, as well as long-standing socio-economic grievances have escalated in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions since 2016 when English-speaking lawyers, students and teachers began protesting against what they saw as their under-representation in, and cultural marginalization by, the central government. Since then, a crisis in the Anglophone North-West and South-West regions has pit government security forces and armed separatists against each other and has driven more than 560,000 Cameroonians from their homes, including 32,000 refugees into Nigeria.
Civil society organizations and national and international human rights and humanitarian groups report that government forces have killed civilians, torched villages, and used torture and incommunicado detention with near total impunity.
Meanwhile, armed separatists have killed, tortured, assaulted and kidnapped dozens of people, including students, teachers, administrative and traditional authorities amid increasing violence across the North-West and South-West regions. Schools and hospitals, teachers and medical staff, are increasingly under attack. Journalists have also been detained and at least four are behind bars in relation to their reporting of the crisis, while members of the media face regular threats of arrest and attacks. These abuses are fomenting severe instability across the regions and show that the government of Cameroon is failing to uphold its Responsibility to Protect the Anglophone population. Without expeditious action, the situation is likely to worsen.
The UN Security Council has largely kept silent on the crisis. Even getting the Council to discuss Cameroon has proven difficult. A recent informal Security Council meeting almost did not take place due to a lack of support from African member States.
As you prepare your remarks for the UNOCA briefing, we respectfully urge you to consider the following recommendations: