This reflection is inspired by the fact that as both government and secessionist forces claim victory over one exploit or the other, the peace loving and innocent population in the areas they attack, suffer.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect HillTop Voices Bamenda's editorial stance.

 It is also informed by the fact that although the media has been documenting the crisis since its outbreak, the true scope of the crisis has not yet been revealed. It is the more informed by the fact that more people than expected are already suffering from psychological illnesses and difficulties by the very fact that they wonder what next may happen to them, their relations in the trouble spots or those in refugee camps. 

As the national and the international community continue to look elsewhere as if nothing is happening in the two English speaking regions to merit their attention, more than a humanitarian catastrophe is emerging in this minority community.
If according to the international community, a humanitarian crisis is meant a singular event or series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety, or wellbeing of a community or group of people, then the Anglophone regions of Cameroon have had more than a fair share. The statistics are gory. As I write, close to half a million people have been displaced internally and to refugee camps in neighbouring Nigeria. A million more are likely to suffer from famine by year end if the situation continues. Although the humanitarian crisis in the two English Speaking regions is man-made, it has already gone past the level of a complex emergency by all international standards. Going by the fact that the situation in trouble spots in the Northwest and Southwest Regions prevent people from assessing their fundamental needs such as food, clean water or safe shelter, the international community needs to turn attention to it. The crisis since turned into an armed conflict with mass movements of people. It has also become a refugee crisis. 

Currently, women and children make up 3 quarters of the Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs with homes in Bamenda, Buea, Kumba, and other secure villages hosting upwards of 20 persons. Worse still, one quarter of these Internally Displaced Persons are of reproductive age. This means that a fifth of this population is likely to become pregnant before the end of the year if they continue to leave out of their natural abode. Worse still, we are likely to register more deaths within the Internally Displaced Persons communities due to pregnancy, reproductive health, serial violence and serial exploitation. To measure the magnitude of the looming humanitarian crisis, one has to take into consideration the fact that since the start of the crisis, women in these areas have lost access to family planning services, prenatal care, and other health and safety services. This is to say that women and children are unfortunate most at risk in this crisis.
It would be an uphill task to try counting the cost of this crisis. For the purpose of this writeup, it is worthy of note that the crisis since led to economic downfalls in the two English Speaking regions with far reaching impacts on the national purse. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Northwest and Southwest are at a stage of civil insecurity and economic shortfalls. If the situation were to continue unabated, it shall in a few years to come cause Yaoundé to collapse as government coffers are being dried off to finance the costly war.
Contrary to a deceiving narrative in especially Bamenda that the institution of Ghost Towns forced many to return to the farms on such days and that would be more supplies of food in the future, the two English Speaking Regions are likely to experience food insecurity, famine, corruption and various other issues. 

On a purely humanitarian disaster front, gross human rights violations and mass murders have since become the defining characteristic of the crisis. The crisis has led to women and children being forced to work in dangerous conditions to gain income and food both in and out of their habitats as all the able-bodied men who used to take care of them have forced to flee.
In terms of equal and proportionate force, there has been a mismatch between sporadic attacks by secessionist fighters and the collective punishment meted on the population by rampaging government forces following each attack. The military air raids and the debilitating blockade of the long Cameroon/Nigeria border have been depriving the population of the two regions from getting essential supplies from Nigeria.

As I write, many a village in the two English Speaking Regions are still being evacuated or deserted in anticipation of imminent attacks from both government and separatist fighters. But for residents in these villages, the paths out of these areas are shadowed by threats of death from hunger and thirst. Staying within the confines of the village, however, exposes them to the clutches of a military known for treating innocent civilians with reckless abandon and who have raised brutality to the level of fine arts. Rather than acting as a professional army, by calling on residents to maintain safe distances from secessionist fighters positions because these are obvious military targets, they just descend on the population with heavy artillery shelling, maiming and killing. Families are at extreme risk of being caught in crossfire. As stated earlier, thousands have forcefully been expelled and others trapped between the fighting lines. Unfortunately, and as stated earlier, women, children, the elderly, and the disabled have been particularly vulnerable. 

As the separatist fighters are being pushed out of most communities, and together with the population, the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis is becoming palpable. Those who were living their independent lives in the affected communities before the 
crisis, now have to depend entirely on the accommodating communities. Homes and livestock have been looted or destroyed in the ongoing and senseless violence. Although we are into the farming season, people in these communities are unable to cultivate crops.
The need for assistance is urgent. The humanitarian organization, The Ayah Foundation, has been able to provide some timely and critical assistance to some areas. Some people requiring medical aid have been transported to facilities where they can receive treatment.
As one moves from one accommodating community to the other, it becomes heartrending to see children who are just obviously emaciated and in desperate need for help. As the solution to the crisis whilst, child soldiers are beginning to be recruited. Who knows, we may soon be confronted with suicide bombings.
Statistically, the situation is such that of the close to half a million displaced, over 10% are now getting to borrow money to purchase basic foodstuff, with another 5% selling asserts for the same purpose. 

In terms of destruction so far, it is estimated that approximately 500 homes have been completely destroyed by government forces between January and April, 2018 alone.
On the sanitation and health front, health experts now talk of an increasing risk of communicable disease outbreak in both the affected and accommodation communities. Due to diminished access to portable water, overcrowding in receiving communities, and inadequate shelter, possible disease outbreak, such as cholera, is a growing  concern. Anglophones living in affected communities, and those with chronic disease conditions such as renal failure, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, have been interrupted due to access, affordability, and accessibility related issues. Births attended by skilled workers in these communities have drastically decreased.  School attendance that was picking up after an end to school boycott was called off, have returned to near zero. Rape, child abuse, and teenage pregnancies, have become a new common. The child immunization programme in these conflict ridden areas has since broken down. Government extension services in affected areas have been forced to scale back as non- indigenes are hardly welcomed. In the towns and cities where closures and curfews have become a new common, access to emergency medical services is hardly granted during the night. Truth be told, most Anglophone communities, directly affected or not, suffer from widespread psychological illnesses. Many a family now report psychological difficulties for one family member or the other. 

If care is not taken, and if more national and international humanitarian organizations do not come in, a whole generation of Anglophones would be wasted.

That is the Muteff Boy's Take


By Colbert Gwain 
Author (most recent book; Bamenda source of inspiration for Modern Cameroon), Columnist for The Voices Weekly Newspaper, Radio Host, Rights (internet, girls, women and minority) Activist and Communication Consultant. 


Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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