The Humanitarian Face of Cameroon Army

The defence forces are not only protecting the territorial integrity of the State but have also build a formidable symbiosis with the population they are protecting.   Cameroon’s Army is evolving rapidly with the evolution of the world. This evolution and modernisation of the armed forces is thanks to reforms introduced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Paul Biya. The reforms have created a wonderful symbiosis between the forces and the population. Gone are those days when the population used to be dreaded in the sight of the military. The reforms modernising the Armed Forces brought them closer to the people and gave it the humane character while still keeping its very important role of protecting the national territory.

In 2001, the President of the Republic created the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR in French acronym), which is an elite force in the country as part of the reforms. The BIR, a combat unit of the Cameroonian Armed forces was created to fight armed groups in the borders. This explains why the Bakassi Peninsular in Ndian Division and Idenau in Fako Division of the South West Region as well as border localities are harbouring BIR units.

The presence of the BIR installations in these localities is not only an assurance of high level security but also a blessing for the local population. In effect, the BIR has developed a strong sense of social corporate responsibility by giving back to the communities even though it is not a profit-making enterprise. Concretely, the presence of the BIR in the Bakassi Peninsular is a blessing to the local communities, inhabited mostly by Nigerians. The elite force has been providing free medical care, clean drinking water and didactic materials to pupils in various communities in the area which for now lacks some of these basic facilities.

In Jabane fishing port in Idabato Sub-division in the Bakassi Peninsular for instance, where there is one of the BIR unit, the population are treated free of charge at the Health unit of the military base. The elite force has also been donating benches, uniforms and other didactic materials to pupils of the Government Primary School in Jabane and other localities in the Bakassi Peninsular.  In fact, the BIR Jabane health facility is open for inhabitants who are treated free of charge except for complicated cases. Their borehole for clean portable water is also open for the population as

Apart from the local inhabitants, the BIR is playing a crucial role in transporting civil servants who work in the Bakassi Peninsular. Given the fact that it is a difficult area where transport facilities are almost absent, the BIR provides free transportation to civil servants and other citizens living in the area to the nearest towns like Idenau or Ekondo Titi. Apart from transporting civil servants, the elite force also makes their Rest Houses available to those civil servants transferred in the area.

Another structure that has benefitted from the largesse of the Rapid Intervention Battalion is the Limbe Regional Hospital where the BIR donated an ambulance sometime last year to help in the rapid transportation of patients to the medical facility.

With these humanitarian gestures towards the population, it is expected that the people also collaborate with the defence forces. The collaboration has paved the way for the eradication of pirates in the Bakassi Peninsular and the almost annihilated Boko Haram terrorist sect in the Far North Region. The Head of State, Paul Biya, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces have been keen on the synergy between the defence forces and the population for the preservation of peace, national integration and living together. This is why the theme of the 45th edition of the National Day was “Army and the Nation in full synergy for a Cameroon united in its diversity and devoted to the ideals of peace, stability and prosperity.”

Shawn-Nathan Epang

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