Military/separatists’ showdown in Bamenda leaves civilians in a limbo

Military/separatists’ showdown in Bamenda leaves civilians in a limbo

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The Anglophone Crisis which started four years back is taking another twist. Inhabitants of the two regions (Northwest and Southwest) badly affected by the crisis are constantly kept in the dark because of sporadic gunshots heard from every angle. Rampant kidnappings, killings and thirst for revenge carry the day. The normal phenomenon is that, when these separatist fighters “hit and run”, civilians are often left to bear the military’s rot, as they are often molested and most of their business places shattered, while separatist fighters have also reportedly battered civilians they term “Black Legs” (Betrayals) after military raids in some areas.

A crack down launched by the Cameroon military against alleged Amba boys on the 25 of August has left about 17 separatists fighters dead and about 7 arrested.  According to the Brigadier Gen Nka Valere, locally made weapons were seized during the military raid in Boyo Division, Northwest region of Cameroon. The announcement was made via the national station’s 1 pm news cast. The brigadier further explained that the raid lasted for six days and some of the items seized apart from locally made weapons include, gas cylinders and marijuana.

However, on the 1st of September, barely a day after the announcement was made; some parts of Bamenda, chief town of the Northwest Region of Cameroon had been engulfed in a heavy shoot out following the killing of a police man according to media reports. Gunshots heard around localities like small Mankon, Food Market, and Commercial Avenue left denizens to flee for their lives.  “Everyone in Bamenda is on the run as I speak, serious shooting going on… the police here are  just firing and firing”. A Source told Mimi Mefo Info..

The tensions in Bamenda left traders of food market stranded as they were seen taking refuge in police stations nearby. Bamenda is one of the worst hit regions as far as the ongoing unrest in the Northwest and Southwest regions of    Cameroon is concerned.

The city remains dead 4 days after the killing of police man

The city of Bamenda has remained “dead” after the unfortunate incident. Commercial activities are totally grounded. While the military and the Separatists continue to fight for supremacy, the poor masses are paying the prize. Men in uniform are seen taking down items on sell by the road side in a video that has gone viral online. As if that is not enough, arbitrary arrests by men in uniform are rampant as everyone has become a suspect. “I had to leave Bamenda to Douala for fear of the unknown. My neighborhood as we speak is heavily militarized. I will live here in Douala until the ongoing crackdown in Bamenda is over. I left my family behind but if what is going on in Bamenda continues, I will be left with no choice than to make provisions for them to join me here”, a man who identifies himself as Budze told the Cameroon Humanitarian News. One of his fears is that if the crisis in Bamenda continues at this pace, all his businesses will be ruined. “I have never lived in Douala before, where will I start from?” Budze questioned. Just like Budze, Bamenda denizens are fleeing the region to other safer areas mostly in French Cameroon, abandoning their sources of livelihoods.

To further complicate things, the circulation of commercial motor bikes has been restricted in this city. The sector of hundreds of youths in the war-tone region. This is not the first time the government of Cameroon is restricting the circulation of commercial motor bikes in this region. Similar decisions have been made since the Anglophone crisis escalated.

The circulation of commercial motors bikes in Buea, capital city of the Southwest region was totally ban by the late mayor of the city, leaving many youths jobless. These drastic decisions taken by the Cameroon government, many say, push helpless youths to join the Separatist movement.

Civilians as human shields

Needless to say that the use of human shield is forbidden by the Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, civilians have been used as human shields in the context of what is going on in Bamenda and the Anglophone Crisis in general. Separatist initiate attacks in civilians dominated areas and since civilians cannot be distinguished from Separatists, the innocent end up paying the prize. Most of those arrested in Bamenda, to say the least, are innocent civilians while Separatists go scot-free. While we continue to wonder when this will end, innocent civilians continue to pay for crimes they did not commit. Is it not time for the international community to take a decisive action and end this senseless war?

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