Benakuma is now top on the list of forgotten areas as conflict digs deep into the nerves of Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions.
Very little about the people’s story, ordeals, hardship and misery is known to the world.
Benakuma is the headquarters of Menchum Valley Subdivision, Menchum Division of the North West Region of Cameroon.
Locals now live in huts, constructed in bushes as they escape violence in the wake of constant shootouts between pro-independence fighters and the military.
“More than half of the villagers who have not escaped to neighbouring cities and villages for safety are in the bush,” a resident told Mimi Mefo info.
The military arrived the village on October 15, 2018, and have been camping around the council premises closer to the Benakuma market since then.
“The normal market place is located some one kilometer from the three-corners.
The Benakuma Council office is beside the permanent market place and has been occupied by the military since they arrived. The people are afraid to use the market. They now display their goods about one kilometre away, our source narrated.
But the market did not go operational until few weeks go. For the first time in one year, the market went operational.
The people of Benakuma have lost count of civilian deaths, and have skeletons of burnt houses everywhere.
But they know how it all began:
“Since the military stormed the village on October 2018, a lot has happened.
First they burnt about 40 houses that week and killed five civilians and three amba boys. Now, we cannot tell the number of casualties on the side of the military.
This caused the population to flee into the bushes. They have been living in the bushes for the past nine months,” a source who opted for anonymity revealed.
Back to school is in less than one month with intensified campaigns being trumpeted by rights groups, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.
What is the future for Benakuma kids?
Children in this conflic-hit area have not been to school for two years.
“Recently, the military has been organising meetings with the population, inviting them to come out of the bushes and stay in their houses,”
But is the village safe enough for the people who are caught between two smoking barrels?
Mimi Mefo Info
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