Panafrican News Agency

Cameroon: Satellite images reveal devastation in Anglophone regions - rights group

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Amnesty International says new research has revealed the scale of destruction caused by the ongoing conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.

The human rights body on Wednesday said fighting between various armed groups and the Cameroonian armed forces has continued unabated for the past three years.

Civilians are bearing the brunt of unlawful killings, kidnappings, and widespread destruction of houses and villages.

''Government intervention has been limited, and there has been near-complete silence from the international community'', the organization said.

Violence between government forces and the Anglophone armed separatist groups,-who are themselves divided, erupted in 2017, when protests against discrimination and marginalization were repressed by the authorities.

Based on eyewitness testimonies and analysis of satellite images, Amnesty International documented how dozens of civilians have been killed and multiple villages destroyed since 2019.

“All parties to the conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have committed human rights violations and abuses, and civilians are caught in the middle,” said Fabien Offner, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher.

In one particularly appalling case, armed separatists shot dead two elderly women with barrage rifles.

In another, Fulani vigilantes burned hundreds of houses and killed four people in a terrifying attack,

“It is difficult to obtain accurate information about the human rights crisis unfolding in these regions, which are hard to reach by road and have poor telecommunications networks,'' said the official.

But this is no excuse to look away - without strong action by the authorities and the international community, civilians will continue to bear the brunt of the crisis, added Fabian 

The Anglophone regions of Cameroon – the South-West and North-West – make up approximately 20 percent of the country’s population.

Violence has recently intensified in parts of the North-West.

The situation has heightened tensions with armed separatists who have long accused the Fulanis of cooperating with the authorities, Amnesty International said.

The rights group cited many other human rights violations, including displacements by all parties in the conflict.

“The international community must publicly call on the Cameroonian authorities to urgently initiate thorough, independent, impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations.

"If there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute those suspected of criminal responsibility in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts without recourse to the death penalty,'' added Offner.

-0- PANA DJ/AR 28July2021