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Africa Should Not Fail Cameroon-Human Right Watch Official

Since the Anglophone crisis transformed into a bloody conflict, HRW says numerous separatist groups have emerged and taken up arms calling for the independence of the Anglophone regions, which they call “Ambazonia.” “These groups have killed, kidnapped, and tortured perceived opponents, while enforcing a boycott of education, which has kept children and their teachers out of school for over two years in the Northwest and Southwest regions.”

It further reveals that, the government has responded with violence, “burning hundreds of homes, killing civilians, and detaining and torturing alleged separatists in a gendarme-run prison in the capital, Yaoundé. ” The crisis has displaced half a million Cameroonians, many of whom desperately need protection and humanitarian assistance, Mausi Segun, Executive Director of Human Right Watch’s Africa Division said.

As Cameroon has spiraled into violence, Mausi Segun has slammed the African Union for not taking action. “The continent-wide body that aspires to promote “African Solutions to African Problems,” has refused to confront or acknowledge the problem.” She salutes the UN security council Arria meeting in May calling it “a worthy effort.” But regretted that, the event was an informal side event and only focused on the humanitarian situation.

“Fierce resistance from the Council’s African members, wary of Western-led interventions on the continent, almost derailed the effort. The African Union’s permanent representative to the Security Council didn’t even attend the session.” the official lamented.

In a wake up call, the Human Rights Watch Africa Director says, ” There is no better way to mobilize the fractious Security Council to address the crisis in Cameroon than for its African members to demonstrate leadership and demand vigorous action.” She therefore challenged African countries at the UN security Council to ensure that the crisis be put in the emergency agenda of the body.

Weighing in on the involvement of Africa’s representative at the UN Security council, she regretted that, Equatorial Guinea is unlikely to rise to the challenge. “As a country knee-deep in human rights violations, it has ample reason to defend the self-serving idea that what happens inside the border of a state, no matter how egregious for rights or threatening to security, is its own business.”

South Africa’s long struggle against apartheid was helped by international solidarity, including the active support of the UN Security Council. Sugun expressed disappointment over the fact, in recent years, however, “successive South African presidents have pushed back against international pressure seeking to address serious and widespread human rights abuses in countries such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, and, until recently, Myanmar. “The newly elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has promised to promote, “democracy, justice, human rights, and good governance” at the UN, and “the Cameroon crisis would be a good place to start.”

The best hope to Mausi Segun may be Côte d’Ivoire, whose brutal 2010-11 post-election crisis was resolved with AU and Security Council support.

President Alassane Ouattara, when campaigning in 2016 for his country to join the UN Security Council, said that it, “must be the principal organ in which courageous decisions are taken, to save people and states from conflicts and wars, with the suffering and distress that they bring.”

“Côte d’Ivoire finishes its term on the UN Security Council at the end of 2019. Although its voting record is far from perfect, President Ouattara’s government has shown some leadership on human rights issues. Côte d’Ivoire broke with other African states to initiate an arms embargo on South Sudan, although on May 30 it abstained on a resolution reauthorizing the ban.” the HRW official hailed the country’s efforts.

To her supporting action on Cameroon, by formally placing the Anglophone crisis on the Council’s agenda and addressing the serious human rights abuses, “would strengthen Côte d’Ivoire’s legacy as a supporter of human rights defenders and conflict resolution.

It would also demonstrate that African governments can have the courage and conviction to address pressing crises on the continent.”

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