The deepening Anglophone Crisis: aid workers, civilians, paying the prize

The deepening Anglophone Crisis: aid workers, civilians, paying the prize

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Rev. Christopher Tanjoh Fon, was an aid worker in Batibo, Northwest Region of Cameroon. He was working with a local NGO, Community Initiative for Sustainable Development, COMINSUD, a partner organization with the World Food program

The Pastor of the New Apostolic Church who served COMINSUD as a field agent for the general food distribution project supported by the World Food Program (WFP) to affected and displaced persons in the Guzang (Batibo) cluster was equally an outspoken man of God who did not hesitate to point out the “excesses” of Armed Separatist Fighters cum “Amba Boys”.

He had earlier recorded a message and sent to an “Amba general” warning him against extortion and greed, condemning “Amba boys” of kidnapping and demanding ransom from the helpless civilian population whom they claim to protect. The prelate maintained that he as a servant of God has the moral obligation to stand for the truth and defend the helpless.

Rev. Christopher Tanjoh Fon, 55 met his doom on August 7. He was reportedly kidnapped and killed by Separatist Fighters who referred to him as a “Black leg” (betrayer).

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The coordinator of COMINSUD is quoted as saying “We think that as an older person and pastor, he did just what he was supposed to do. Civilians should not be the target and the object of the current armed conflict…If people are to fight for the population, they should not also make the population suffer. By every standard, civilians, especially aid workers, need protection within the context of the conflict between persons in arms.”

The UN Program Regional Director Chris Nikoi in a statement condemned the killing of the prelate, terming it “unacceptable”.  “It is unacceptable that humanitarians working tirelessly”,  the statement reads “to alleviate suffering in these difficult and unprecedented times should be targeted. We strongly condemn this act and similar actions targeting civilians and aid workers in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon”

The United States through her embassy in Yaoundé in a release describes the death of the man of God cum aid worker as “a terrible reminder of the dangers humanitarian aid workers face in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.”   The US embassy further emphasized that aid workers should not be hindered from getting to those in need.  “Pastor Tanjoh was a community leader” the release reads “and humanitarian aid worker with the local non-governmental organization Community Initiative for Sustainable Development … We call for an independent investigation into the killing and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice in accordance with Cameroonian law.”

It should be noted that another humanitarian worker who go by name Pascal Ngwayi, still of COMINSUD was brutally killed on the 30th of November 2019 in Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region.

The killings continue

Still in the restive Northwest Region, precisely in the Ngokentunjia Division, a local vigilante group member, Peter Njakah Chuisih was reportedly beheaded by suspected Amba Boys. One of the “Amba Boys” who calls himself “General Fire” had claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of Peter Njakah Chuisih in an audio widely circulated online. The said vigilante group member was working closely with the Cameroon military as well as local administrators that these Amba boys consider enemies. “…. We have to kill him to show example to others that are collaborating with the military and the government of La Republic”, “General Fire” is quoted as saying.

Another lady  whose name we got as Comfort Timasam was brutally murdered by suspected Separatist Fighters, August 13. The 35 years old lady, according to unconfirmed reports had contacts with the Cameroon military and was reportedly feeding them with information about Separatist Fighters. “Lay down, lay down”, the authors of the murder shouted. The lady who is also a mother of 3 struggled on the ground helplessly with her hands tied behind her  back. Before he knew, one of the boys landed a machete on her neck in quick successions, the rest is history.

So far, three suspects have been apprehended while investigations to uncover the whole squard behind the gruesome murder of the 35-year-old is still underway.  An avalanche of condemnation from home and abroad has followed the news of the dead of this lady. Barrister Akere Muna says that the murder of Comfort Timasam is barbaric and unacceptable. He writes, “I was unable to complete watching a most gruesome video. An incident which supposedly took place in Muyuka, Southwest Region of Cameroon. Hands tied behind her back, a lady hacked to death with a machete. Whoever the cause, this is the most barbaric and inhumane. Unacceptable!”

Human Right Watch Illara Allagrozzi just like Barrister Akere Muna is horrified by the murder of Bih Blanche. He writes “Cameroon: verifying video circulating yesterday on social media showing a woman in Muyuka, Southwest Region, tortured by alleged separatists who slit her throat accusing her of informing military. Unspeakable violence. Sources say yesterday separatists also beheaded a man in Ndop, Northwest.”

Separatists fighters have however distanced themselves from the murder of the mother of 3, pointing out that it is a ploy by the Cameroon government to frustrate their drive for the restoration of the Southern Cameroon statehood.

Another Anglophone detainee, Tangem Thomas Nganyu, 57, a former monk and a metal sheet engineer died in the Yaoundé General Hospital, August 5, with his hand chained to his hospital bed.

Tangem was among hundreds arrested in connection to the worsening conflict in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon that have endured for four years now. Sources say he was arrested in Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon, three years ago and whisked to an over crowded maximum security prison in Yaoundé, capital city of Cameroon where he fell sick. The family of the diseased engineer maintains that prison authorities neglected his illness and was only rushed to the hospital l when his situation became very critical.

The Centre for Human Right and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA in a state condemned the poor treatment of Tangem, that was arbitrarily arrested and detained in very poor conditions.

“CHRDA is concerned about the fact that he was unable to get proper medical attention, a right enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Cameroon Procedure Code…. We call on Cameroonian prison authorities to provide better medical services to inmates and not subject them to any form of inhumane and degrading treatment”, part the statement by CHRDA reads.

The Anglophone Crisis that has endured for four years now has led to the dead of 3,000 civilians and hundreds of Cameroon’s uniform men.

The UN estimates that more than 700,000 people have been internally displaced while 60,000 refugees are in Nigeria as a result of the long conflict according to the UNHCR.

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