Denizens of Mamfe, the chief town of Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon on June 9, 2022, woke to a very sad and ugly reality that involved the burning down of their district hospital facility by unidentified individuals. The source of the fire is yet to be ascertained as different people hold different opinions. Some hold the Separatist fighters responsible while others attribute it to the recklessness of government security forces. Irrespective of who is responsible for this gruesome act deserves uncompromising condemnation because it is a gross violation of human rights. The damages are enormous and the impact unimaginable. Although no human life was lost to the fire, there is no doubt that many will eventually die because of the absence of that health facility.
Mamfe, the chief town of Manyu Division, is one of the oldest towns in Cameroon dating back to the German colonial era through the British Mandate and Trusteeship. Though its growth has somehow been retarded due to the ongoing armed conflict, the population of the town is estimated at over 40000 inhabitants. These are people whose health needs have been sacrificed amidst the crisis. No more access to health facilities. What becomes of patients? Certainly, the mortality rate will rise as many will not be able to seek medical attention out of the town.
The Cameroon Anglophone Crisis seems to have no regard for international humanitarian laws. Medical facilities and places of worship which are supposed to be safest have now become popular targets for attacks. Hospitals have been attacked in Kumba, Shisong, Mbengwi and now Mamfe while churches have also been attacked in Ekondo-titi, Mbengwi, Banso among others. Are people not supposed to run to these places for safety?
CAWI condemns this act with all its energy and urges all actors involved in this conflict to exercise restraint. It is terribly inhuman. The fact that the hospital is treating war victims from either side of the warring factions does not, in any way, justify its destruction by whosoever. It is irrational, senseless, wicked and despicable. The impact of this act goes far beyond material damage to the public facility. The social, mental, psychological and economic effects are tremendous. The 45 in-patients at the time of the incident were only saved by God’s intervention.
Health is a treasure and access to a health facility is a fundamental human right. CAWI therefore, say NO to the continuous violation of human rights. Let us make our hospitals, schools and churches places of refuge and security.