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UNSC must escalate Cameroon crisis on its agenda – Rights groups

UNSC must escalate Cameroon crisis on its agenda – Rights groups

Cameroon

A group of nine rights groups are calling for the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, to give needed attention to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions.

Their call was contained in a June 3 statement , issued on the eve of a Security Council hearing on the Central Africa region. Head of the UN’s regional office, Francois Louceny Fall on June 4 briefed the UNSC on a wide range of issues in the region.

Even though the Anglophone crisis features prominently in his last briefing, the groups hold that it is time the UNSC made the crisis a stand-alone item on its agenda.

The UN Security Council has largely kept silent on the crisis. Without expeditious action, the situation is likely to worsen.

The campaigners said even though the UN Regional Officer’s briefings are an opportunity to formally raise the situation in Cameroon at the Security Council, the body is being urged to formally add Cameroon to its agenda as a regular stand-alone item.

“The UN Security Council has largely kept silent on the crisis,” the organizations said. “Without expeditious action, the situation is likely to worsen,” they further warned.

In a joint letter issued in late May 2019 called on all UN Security Council Members to speak out on a crisis they have been silent, according to the campaigners.

“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,” the statement read in part.

The groups that signed the letter are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme Cameroun (NDH – Cameroon).

Completing the list are: World Organisation Against Torture, Presbyterian Church (USA), and Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network).

About the Anglophone Crisis

Long-running tensions in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon erupted into conflict in late 2016, prompting crackdowns by security forces and leaving 1.3 million people in need of aid, according to the United Nations.

Cameroon’s English speakers have felt increasingly marginalized by the French-speaking government in the capital Yaounde and in 2017 thousands took to the streets to demand a breakaway state.

The military stepped in and thousands of Anglophones fled the ensuing crackdown, which Cameroon authorities described as an anti-terrorist operation.

A U.N. human rights committee in February criticized the “heavy-handed approach” of the security forces to the crisis, which saw medical facilities, schools and entire villages destroyed.

Allegra Baiocchi, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Cameroon, said the violence was hampering relief efforts, and also blamed a lack of funding from other countries.

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