By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Women in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon have reiterated the call for an urgent solution to be found to the present crisis in the South West and North West Regions. The women under the banner of the North West/South west Women’s Task Force, SNWOT, made the call May 14, 2019 during the visit of Prime Minister, Head of Government Chief Dr. Dion Ngute Joseph.
For more than two years now, separatists in the Anglophone regions have been seeking separation from La Republic, with security personnel using heavy hands to bring normalcy to the regions. This heavy handedness of the military has led to hundreds of the civilian population to be killed, hundreds becoming internally displaced persons and refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.
“We want peace because we have had so much trouble in our land. We don’t see what we have done wrong, we only see the blood and each passing day sees the death of a military, civilian. Just the sound of the guns is very frightening and we are begging that the government should listen to our cry one more time” said Dr. Titanji Beatrice, member of SNWOT.
The hope is that what is discussed with the Prime Minister is channelled directly to the Head of State for a meaningful solution to the crisis. She said “We are hoping that the Head of State will see us afterwards”. “…Our hearts have been bleeding for the past three years. We have children who cannot even go to school or be proud of their degrees as they do not even have jobs for themselves. We hope that our tears, the blood that has been spilled in this country should not go in vain, that our children in the prison should be released…”
“Enough is enough and the government should call for an inclusive dialogue with all the parties involved so that they can come to a sustainable peace agreement. The crisis has had a negative impact on the women as the girls are being raped, having their menstruation period in bushes an using leaves, mothers leaving in bushes. These are the things we are decrying” another member of SNWOT reiterated.
The women equally carried placards bearing various messages such as: “Guns don’t talk, people do”, “We cry for our children, we cry for our future”, “Conflict is inevitable but violence is a choice”, “Our voices too count, end hostilities and lets talk”.
Speaking to the wailing women, Chief Dr. Dion Ngute said: “I am here for a peace mission and in that light everything must have an end. All the meetings that individuals are asking for, he will organize it”. “Individuals should not stay in the bush anymore but should come out and let us be like before. There should be school resumption and come September this year, children should go back to school. Those children in the bushes belong to families and we do not want any to die again. We want them to come out and hand their weapons and be rehabilitated” He added.
In late 2017, after a year of protest, separatist forces took up arms against Yaounde. Since then, the regions have been the scene of an armed conflict that sees no sign of concluding anytime soon. In its recent publication, Human Rights Watch said: “Gendarmes and other security forces at the State Secretariat of Defense (SED) used severe beatings and near-drowning to obtain confessions. The NGO also cited cases of torture inflicted by separatist forces on civilians.
According to the International Crisis Group, the conflict in the Anglophone regions has resulted in 1,850 people killed. The United Nations estimates that, the violence has forced more than 530,000 people to flee their homes.