President Paul Biya and wife, Chantal will today send a humanitarian convoy of 100 truckloads of foodstuff, sanitary kits and bedding equipment to the troubled North West and South West regions.
The gesture which comes as the presidential couple’s Christmas and new year gift to the Anglophone regions has been received with a lot of mixed feelings, regarding the conditions under which it comes.
Much like the 1.5 billion FCFA spent on alcoholic drinks for the festive period, many believe the humanitarian aid is a misplaced priority as focus should be on bringing the killings and violence to an end.
Days back, US diplomat, Herman Cohen noted that “if he (Biya) is serious about negotiating an end to this war, Yaoundé must immediately declare a ceasefire”.
The Head of State on the contrary went ahead to sign the devolution bill (special status) which has faced a lot of opposition since the major national dialogue and has failed to put an end to the killings in the Anglophone regions.
Instead of sending humanitarian aid to the regions, many are of the opinion that President Paul Biya should have rather engaged in a more productive solution to the war, which has forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Nigeria.
Another area that has been a source of controversy since the Anglophone Crisis escalated into an armed conflict, is the amount of money spent on humanitarian aid.
Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo in October declared that about 4 billion FCFA will be needed to rebuild the regions after the war. Days later, French Ambassador to Cameroon, HE Christophe Guillou revealed that France was willing to assist in rebuilding with the sum of 40 billion FCFA.
“When the French Minister of Europe and Foreign affairs, Jean Yves Le Drian came to Cameroon, he announced a 30 Billion frs contribution from France to help develop the Far North, but besides that, he also announced a 40 Billion frs contribution for the reconstruction of the North West and South West regions which have suffered for the past three years…” he said.
With millions being spent on aid however at this point, many say it is a waste of resources as the rebuilding process itself cannot start while the fighting is still ongoing. To them, what the country needs at this point is a concrete solution to the conflict that has taken thousands of lives and not aid for those not even sure of seeing the next day due to the war.
Some of the aid items others add will even be useless as many of those for whom they are intended are still in the bushes seeking safety from attacks by the military.
The sending of aid to these regions without due consideration of the real cause of the people’s plight shows not just how reluctant the regime is to see the aggrieved Anglophones genuinely settled but also how far it is willing to go to show the international community everything is in order, much to the detriment of it’s own citizens.
While millions are being spent on aid, many more lose their lives on a daily basis, with the likes of a two year old kid allegedly shot on Christmas day by the military.
Like the US, several other groups and institutions have warned that a military response won’t solve the conflict. The US has even gone as far as reducing military aid to Cameroon as well as taking the country off it’s Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, AGOA on the basis of human rights violations.
Till a free and fair dialogue is organised for all parties to sort out their grievances, many hold that the tons of humanitarian aid the huge sums of money spent by government in fighting the war in the North West and South West regions will be synonymous to pouring water on a duck’s back.