Cameroon has been experiencing socio-political unrest in the North-West and South-West Regions since 2016. This situation partly resulted from socio-professional grievances to which the Government, through consultation and dialogue with the relevant trade unions, provided appropriate solutions that, at times, even went beyond the expectations of the social partners.
The Government’s good will notwithstanding, extremists in the Diaspora and their local networks moved from socio-professional grievances to secessionist plans. After provoking a stalemate in dialogue by raising the stakes, engaging in intimidation and exerting various forms of pressure, they created and sustained an atmosphere of fear and tension through misinformation, dissemination of hate messages and incitement to violence. Finally, they formed armed groups and embarked on terrorist attacks against the authorities and civilian populations in a futile attempt to concretize their pipe dream of partitioning Cameroon.
In addition to calls for hatred and violence on social media, the terrorists have committed many crimes and abuses in the North-West and South-West Regions, mostly against the education sector, economic activities, members of the Defence and Security Forces, Administrative and Traditional Authorities and, especially, the civilian population.
The civilian populations, mostly in rural areas, have paid the highest price of the ugly war imposed by the terrorists on the Cameroonian people. Victims of numerous atrocities (assassination, theft, rape, abduction, extortion, etc.) and gripped by the fear created by threats, intimidations, fake news, etc., many of them have sought refuge abroad or in other regions of Cameroon.
Although the Cameroonian people once more demonstrated their hospitality and great spirit of solidarity towards their compatriots in distress, the Government thought it necessary to prepare a structured and overall assistance plan to address the urgent and essential needs of the populations living under terrorist threats or forced to abandon the quiet of their homes and their activities, and to flee from the murderous madness of these terrorists.
Violation of the Right to Education
The education sector was and remains one of the prime terrorist targets. Schools are repeatedly attacked by armed terrorist groups. Students and teachers have been threatened, brutalized, mutilated and killed right in their classrooms and dormitories. Since the outbreak of the crisis, more than 120 schools have been burnt down in the two regions. A bomb was planted in the premises of Presbyterian Comprehensive Secondary School Aziri in Bamenda on 20 October 2017, but it was fortunately deactivated by the security forces. Because of these attacks which are part of an obscurantist and senseless strategy, thousands of students and teachers, eager to continue their educational career or their professional activities in peace, have migrated to other regions of Cameroon. Apart from the break-up of family units, this has led to the degradation of one of the most reputed and efficient educational systems of the country and even the continent. The consequences of such a situation will be felt for a very long time after the inevitable return to normalcy. Meanwhile, the master-minders of these terrorist acts living abroad are flooding social networks with pictures of their children celebrating the award of their certificates.