FJA 2020 Shortlist
Category: Contribution to Civil Rights
Laura-Angela Bagnetto (France)
Cameroon's Anglophone Crisis, An Unravelling Catastrophe
RFI English service website
March 2, 2020
The original publication is available via the following links: https://www.rfi.fr/en/international/20200302-cameroons-anglophone-crisis-unraveling-catastrophe
The day the military came to Bella’s village in Talingai, in the South-West Anglophone region of Cameroon, the villagers, terrified, escaped into the bush behind the village, where they set up a camp. Speaking to RFI in Mamfe, smartly dressed in a bright blue dress, it is only when she begins her story that her whole body heaves, her shoulders hunch up. She distinctly remembers what happened this time last year, that changed her life forever.
Bella was nursing her second child and sneaked back during the day to pick up some supplies from the house. She spent the night at home after it got too dark to leave. When she returned to the bush, her pregnant sister-in-law and four young children were nowhere to be found. She searched for them for four days.
According to Anglophones RFI spoke to for this article, people are scared, threatened and some have been tortured by the Cameroonian military and rebels, their homes burnt down by men in uniform or had friends and family killed in the fighting between security forces and Anglophone separatists.
The UN sounded the alarm in February, when they confirmed through sources on the ground that armed men carried out the extra judicial killings of at least 21 people in Ngarbuh, the North-West region of Cameroon, including a pregnant woman and seven children, in addition to other reports of military action against civilians in that area.
Women Bear the Brunt of Violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis
RFI English service website
March 3, 2020
Giving birth in the bush, being forced into prostitution, unable to go to school, struggling to take care of family – women in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are suffering as the crisis continues, unabated, as women such as Pearl, 30, scramble to protect their families and survive during difficult times.
“There was shooting from morning until night, and we don’t know who’s shooting,” says Pearl, who fled on December 10 with her husband and three children-- and the rest of Ekona village. It took three hours for the village to get to safety in the bush.
She remembers the buildup of violence around the beginning of October, when she gave birth to her daughter in the local hospital.
“I was so stressed because I heard the gunshots, I couldn’t nurse the baby for three days after I gave birth,” she said. And she was one of the lucky ones.
North-West and South-West regions erupted in violence in 2017 after a Francophone central government crackdown on peaceful protests. The repression against Anglophone teachers and lawyers rallying against alleged discrimination spurred an armed separatist movement and self-declaration of independence for so-called Ambazonia.
This conflict has escalated between armed separatists, and the Cameroonian security forces in the villages and towns, as people flee both sides, not knowing if a stray bullet will kill their family members or themselves.