The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon has seen several calamities, loss of properties and lives. “Over the past two years, a political standoff between Cameroon’s Francophone dominated government and the country’s Anglophone minority – some of whom are seeking independence – has become a full-fledged human rights crisis” –Human Rights Watch. Hundreds are thought to have been killed, over a thousand homes burned, and dozens of schools attacked. An estimated 250,000 people have fled their homes.
Students, teachers, schools, and universities in Cameroon continue to endure significant violence. On Monday the 5th of November 2018, 78 children were kidnapped from Presbyterian Secondary School Nkwen, in Bamenda, North West region of Cameroon and were later released. The school suffered a separate kidnapping incident on October 31st, 2018 in which 11 students were taken and later released. As civil society and human rights promoters, a coalition of 5 Young Women-Led CSO/NGO for Peace and Mediation Advocates in the persons of Baiye Frida, Dopgima Stella, Emilia Epeti Miki, Feka Parchibell Nadum and Ostencia Nsih Anang joined voices as representatives of their organisations to decry the kidnapping of children in the Anglophone Crisis through their platform Women Coalition for Peace and Development.
The abduction of children during conflict is one of the six grave violations identified and condemned by the UN Security Council. “No grievance or national history justifies the kidnapping, harming and torture of children”, Emilia Miki, Founder/CEO of Denis Miki Foundation and Efeti Ventures said. She also re-iterated that Cameroon is the 81st Country to Endorse the Safe Schools Declaration; a Declaration which governments pledge to not use schools for military purposes and to protect them during military operations. Cameroon is the 81st country worldwide and the 22nd African Union member to join this international political agreement to protect education during armed conflict. “Cameroon’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration signals the government’s commitment to better safeguard learning and mitigate the devastating damage caused by attacks on education and military use of schools.” The members of this coalition of Young Women-Led CSO/NGO for Peace and Mediation; a coalition of women NGO leaders called on both parties of the conflict to do their utmost to see that places of education are places of safety. And called on the development of initiatives to promote and protect the right to education and to facilitate the continuation of education in situations of armed conflict. “The continuation of education can provide life-saving health information as well as advice on specific risks and safety measures in societies facing armed conflict”, said Dopgima Stella, Founder of Centre for Youth and Family Empowerment (CEYOFE).
To Baiye Frida, Founder of Blessing Associates for Women & Children (BAWAC) these kidnappings may only be the tip of the iceberg, and without swift international action, the crisis will likely worsen. Feka Parchibell Nadum, Founder of Hope for Vulnerables & Orphans made a call to International actors – especially the African Union, the United Nations, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. That unanimously, they should condemn violence against civilians and make clear that no political objective justifies tampering with the right to education and abducting sleeping schoolchildren from their beds. Ostencia Nsih Anang, a Human Rights Activist called on all stakeholders to ensure that this horrific event doesn’t become a justification for further abuses by any of the parties to this crisis.