(Cameroon) The Congress of the United States’ House of Representatives, in a correspondence to President Paul Biya, has urged him to abandon the military option in solving the Anglophone crisis, and rather embrace the Swiss-led dialogue process, because further considerations regarding U.S.-Cameroon relations will depend on Government’s commitment to engage in a sincere dialogue.
In the correspondence, the Congress also unequivocally blamed government troops for most of the war atrocities committed in the on-going crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon since November 2016.
In the letter addressed to President Paul Biya, Thursday, December 12, the Congress lamented about the humanitarian conditions of those affected by the crisis, especially the thousands of children deprived of education.
Although the petition blames both government and separatists for the atrocities committed, it stresses that the government, to a greater extent, is responsible for the gross rights violations committed in the regions.
“But broad spectrums of international and domestic experts disagree with the Cameroonian government’s assertion that non-state armed groups are responsible for most of the violence. On the contrary, there is consistent and convincing evidence from a variety of unbiased and independent sources that Cameroonian security forces are responsible for the majority of killings of unarmed Cameroonian citizens and destruction of property including the burning of homes. There is evidence of soldiers dragging wounded people out of hospitals and their lifeless bodies found abandoned later. Soldiers have raped women, either for opportunistic or punitive reason,” part of the letter read.
The U.S. Congress stressed that military action has failed to solve the crisis, and as such, the government of Cameroon should engage in an inclusive Swiss-led dialogue with the armed groups and the diaspora.
“The government of Cameroon should demonstrate political will by engaging in the Swiss-led facilitation process, which could lead to future negotiations between the Cameroonian government and the opposition in the Northwest and Southwest, as well as the diaspora. A process of inclusive negotiation and institutional reforms would lead to greater power-sharing and decision-making; facilitate peace, and save Cameroonian lives, children, particularly in rural areas of the Northwest and Southwest, need to resume their education, but that is not going to happen until there is are solution of the conflict,” the petition read.
Since the upsurge of violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, the Cameroonian government has been pressurised by numerous international organisations and countries over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the two regions.
The US Congress expressed worries about the future economic progress of Cameroon, given that ghost towns have grounded economic activities for 30.6 percent of the crisis period, grossly affecting the timber, agro-industry, cocoa, energy, telecommunications, tourism, and transport sectors.
Statistics presented by Congress in the letter, show that: “As of November 2019, more than 2,000 people have died, as many as 710,000 people have been internally displaced, and 44,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Nigeria, due to the on-going conflict in the Northwest and Southwest.”
“Roughly 2.6million people in these areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 855,000 children, the majority of whom are internally displaced, do not have access to education.”
The United States’ Congress warned that if the government continues to neglect the conflict in the English-speaking regions, there are fears Cameroon will grow a future “generation of unskilled and underdeveloped people who are prone to unemployment, and prone to violent extremism and criminality.”