The United States has extended a travel advisory to citizens in respect of Cameroon’s predominantly anglophone regions.
The new “Security Message” titled “Continued Unrest in the Northwest and Southwest regions,” replaces an earlier one issued on September 23, 2017 and was due to expire on October 3.
The reason for the extension according to the Embassy was due to the violent and deadly protests of October 1, 2017. Official records indicate that eight people were killed as a result of clashes between the security forces and protesters.
This extension is due to violent protests which caused several fatalities in the regions on October 1 and the potential for further unrest. U.S. citizens are advised to adjust travel plans accordingly.
But international rights group, Amnesty International, also reported on Monday that it had confirmed at least 17 deaths. Cameroon’s main opposition chief put the figure at 30 deaths. Some 50 others were injured whiles about 200 were detained.
The October 2 statement read in part: “U.S. citizens are advised that the U.S. Embassy has extended its deferral of all non-essential travel for U.S. Embassy personnel to the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon through October 23, 2017.
“This extension is due to violent protests which caused several fatalities in the regions on October 1 and the potential for further unrest. U.S. citizens are advised to adjust travel plans accordingly. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.”
The embassy further asked nationals to avoid areas where demonstrations were taking place and exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.
Thousands of demonstrators from the English-speaking (North West and South West) regions have recently taken to the streets chanting songs of independence and requesting the unconditional release of activists.
Long-standing complaints of political and economic discrimination spilled over the last year when lawyers and teachers called for reforms. In many parts of the respective regions, protesters took down the national flag of Cameroon hoisting another referred to as the Ambazonia flag.
The protests were the largest and most widespread in months and came the day after a bomb suspected to have been planted by separatists wounded three policemen in Bamenda, capital of the Northwest region.
Cameroon’s current difficulties stem back to its pre-independence history when it was formed by combining a region that was colonized by the British with the larger region run by the French.
Mean while Cameroonian authorities insist the unity of the State remains a fundamental and non-negotiable value enshrined in the constitution.