Some ex-Boko Haram fighters who surrendered to authorities in the Far North Region have called on their fellow countrymen who are fighting with the group to denounce terrorism and join the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, DDR, centres.
After surrendering to the Cameroon military, one of the combatants said: “We say thank you and we, by all means, call the other fighters to come and join us.”
According to Malloum, another ex-combatant, “I regret, I regret a thousand times. They took me, hostage, with my family in the fields. They forced me to go to fight against the soldiers. I lived the difficult moments of my life, no sleep. But I narrowly escaped and thank God that we are back home. I ask my brothers to lay down their arms and start a new life.”
They made these confessions during a working visit of the DDR National Coordinator, Fai Yengo Francis, to the Far North region.
Some 150 ex-combatants, looking weary and worn out, returned to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration committee of Meri in the Diamaré, with another 110 combatants, alongside their families, with the multinational mixed force of Mora.
During his mission to the Far North, Fai Yengo visited a 13-hectare site under construction which is meant to host 1,000 ex-combatants and their families.
A sum of FCFA 1 billion had earlier been released by President Biya for the start of construction works at the site.
The DDR Coordinator also visited a facility in Meri where the first 150 ex-combatants are housed with their families.
But these families cannot afford education for more than 20 children who are with them, many of whom can neither read nor write.
A temporary teacher volunteering to tutor the children says he needs resources from the government in order to succeed in the task.
“I am in my village and I have accepted to help these children voluntarily while waiting for the State to see how they need to be supervised so that they can learn to read and write. For the moment it is difficult, very difficult because they do not know French or Fulfulde, the most spoken language in the Far North. These children only speak Kanouri, so it really takes time,” he said.
In Meri, Diamaré, the ex-combatants received bags of millet, corn, fish, refrigerators, and televisions.
But many of them are still depressed and need permanent follow-up for their morales to be boosted and to enable these men and women reintegrate into society.