By Tata Mbunwe
A subcommittee on International Human Rights in the Canadian House of Commons has called on their home government to mount pressure on Cameroon to call for a ceasefire in its English-speaking regions.
A press release from the House of Commons on the human rights situation in Cameroon states that the human rights situation in the Northwest and Southwest regions is nothing short of an atrocity situation.
“… Canada could play a stronger role in helping to end this crisis. As such, the Subcommittee shares the view that the government of Canada should rally allies through multilateral organisations to call for an immediate ceasefire and end to hostilities,” the release states.
According to the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights, the rights violations “is nothing short of an atrocity situation, consisting of widespread and systematic crimes against humanity against the civilian population…”
It added these violations seriously violate international humanitarian law and amount to war crimes.
The subcommittee said, since 13 June 2019 when they last reported on human rights violations in Cameroon, the situation has not improved and “… there is no end to hostilities in sight” as the root causes of the Anglophone Crisis continue to be ignored.
The conflict in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions has claimed atleast 4,000 lives, displaced about 700,000 civilians and resulted in the burning of over 400 villages.
According to non-governmental organisations, about 800,000 to 1.1 million children have been forced to stay out of school for years due to the conflict.
“The international community cannot continue to stand idly by while atrocities in Cameroon continue unabated. The Subcommittee shares the view of witnesses that the situation needs urgent attention – with no end to the conflict in sight, Cameroon’s divisions are becoming increasingly entrenched,” stated the Canadian House of Commons.
A neglected crisis at home
Judging from the nature of events surrounding the CPDM-majority government which has ruled Cameroon for 38 years, it will not be an overstatement to say the Anglophone Crisis is not only neglected by the international community as NGOs have reported, but has equally been neglected at home.
Both the Cameroon government and parliament have been passive towards resolving the crisis, with no parliamentary session ever held to discuss the ceasefire or dialogue.
Despite calls from the UN, US, UK, Vatican and Canada for the conflict to be resolved, the Cameroonian government has maintained that it needs no external intervention to solve an internal crisis, and has refused to compromise for free and fair dialogue with Separatist leaders.
A Major National Dialogue held in late 2019 was not inclusive of Separatist leaders and is yet to achieve any meaningful peace in the conflict embattled regions.
Many are those who also think that the Cameroonian Parliament has also failed in its duty to press for dialogue and end to the hostilities. The CPDM-majority National Assembly has held at least 13 ordinary sessions since 2017, yet the crisis has never featured in its agenda.
This March parliamentary session still gives no hope for discussions on the Anglophone Crisis as the crisis is not on the parliamentary agenda, reports The Post newspaper, citing National Assembly Secretary-General, Gaston Komba.
Just like other countries pressing for an end to the crisis, the Canadian government, through High Commissioner to Cameroon, Richard Bale, has been preaching ceasefire and dialogue in Cameroon.
Cameroon and Canada are the only countries which have membership in both the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, due to their bilingual statuses.