As the world watches with pitiful passiveness, a genocide in the process is unfolding in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions. Separatists, borne of over half a century of marginalisation of the English-speaking majority have now taken armed to seek the independence of the territory they have now christened Ambazonia.
It seems a field day for the Yaounde regime of 87-year-old sit-tight ruler, President Paul Biya who confessed months back in Paris that theirs was an agenda to annihilate and exterminated English speaking Cameroonians.
The killing of over two dozen people in Ngarbuh last Friday by elements of the Cameroonian security only adds to many other mass killings since 2016. In fact, the killing of no fewer than 25 people in Pinyin in one day, as well as those in Mankon and Bambubock takes the number of people killed by soldiers to thousands.
Only today, a soldier in Bamenda chased and killed an unarmed driver in a hospital premises, apparently supporting claims that Francophones are taking advantage of the socio-political situation to erase the Anglophone race.
In the face of this glaring injustice, the most the international community has done is to issue loud-sounding empty condemnations.
Speaking in Geneva Tuesday, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the attack on 14 February on a village in Cameroon that left 23 people dead, the majority of them children, is a shocking episode in the ongoing crisis that has afflicted the country’s North-West and South-West regions for the past three years.
The UN quotes witnesses as saying that some 40 armed men, including members of the security and defence forces, attacked the village of Ngarbuh, in the department of Donga Mantung in North-West Cameroon, opening fire on people and burning down houses.
The lying regime of despot Biya claims that defence forces and gendarmes came under attack from people inside the village with the exchange of shots igniting a fire that affected several dwellings which killed one woman and four children. They also claimed to have killed seven separatists. But where are the corpses of the so-called separatists killed? How could children killed by a maddening fire have bullet and machete wounds? Who hurriedly buried the corpses?
While government is trying to narrow the number of deaths to 12, information from UN staff on the ground, emphasize that among the 23 people killed were 15 children, nine of whom were under the age of five. The victims also included two pregnant women, one of whom died of her injuries in hospital.
This attack is the latest deadly incident in Cameroon’s North-West and South-West regions where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by clashes between security and defence forces and armed separatist groups.
In her usual passive nature, the UN calls on the Government to ensure that the security forces abide by applicable international law norms standards during the conduct of their operations, similarly reminding armed separatist groups of their responsibilities under international law and call on all parties to refrain from deliberate attacks on civilians.
By this, the UN is telling the parties to keep on fight for as long as they please. The killing of at least 25 fighters by the separatists weeks back, the brutal murder of a wardress in Pinyin, kidnappings and maiming carried out by the armed groups is also being swept under the carpet.
France, the former colonial power, is taking a stand of willful ignorance that is weirdly similar to its attitude toward Rwanda in the months leading to that genocide. And nobody else wants to go anywhere near Cameroon since none of the major international players has strategic interests in the area – and certainly no interests tied to the Anglophone minority.
The Western press is also taking a rather strange stance on this conflict, which they often term a “near-civil war”. But a civil war implies that there is some kind of equivalence of power between the two parties as if there was any doubt about which side might prevail.
This is simply not the case here. No amount of hardened “secessionist insurgents” is going to pose a real threat to the Francophone government, or indeed the Francophone regions. Short of the two sides coming together to agree on some kind of compromise – and at this stage neither is contemplating such a thing – there are exactly two possible outcomes: Either the Biya government decides to just cut the two Anglophone regions loose and carry on with the Francophonie, or it decides to drown the two provinces in blood.
The decision over what happens next rests entirely with the Biya government. So far, there are no international power players interested in pressuring the government in one direction or the other. And at every given opportunity, the government has chosen to escalate the matter.
The situation in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions is squarely pointing in the direction of the bloodiest genocide in world history. There is nothing to suggest that the internal dynamics of the crisis, or the conduct of the Biya government, will divert the course of events, or that it will slow down.
Perhaps the best hope for Cameroon at this moment in history is, in fact, the US. The US has some leverage over Cameroon’s government and has already cut some military assistance to the Biya government over the escalating humanitarian crisis. It has also served trade ties with the central African nation.
But can we have any faith that the Trump administration will initiate a sufficiently robust policy response towards this worsening humanitarian crisis? That would be out of character for the administration. And as long as that remains the case, Cameroon’s most likely outcome, tragically, looks like Rwanda.
Unfortunately, as the death toll in Ngarbuh rises to over 35, the most the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Tibor Nagy, regarding the attacks in Ngarbuh was a lame comment released on Twitter on February 19, 2020.
He tweeted: “We condemn the killings of civilians in Ngarbu, Northwest Region, and offer condolences to the victims’ families. We call on the government to authorize an independent investigation, ensure the safety of witnesses, and bring perpetrators to justice. The violence must stop.”
But who will stop the violence?