U.S. Inaction in Cameroon Is No Longer an Option

Alexandra Lamarche, Alanna Fox
Reuters

Alexandra Lamarche, Alanna Fox

Security, Africa

The United States has particularly important stakes in Cameroon. With investment comes the responsibility and leverage to ease the extent of human suffering.

U.S. Inaction in Cameroon Is No Longer an Option

The central African nation of Cameroon does not often make international headlines. Governments within Africa and beyond have recognized Cameroon’s military efforts against Boko Haram, and the country has also been known for welcoming refugees from neighboring countries and for the peaceful coexistence among its hundreds of linguistic groups. But over the last few years, violence has engulfed the country’s Anglophone regions.

The United States has particularly important stakes in Cameroon. Following a decade of military cooperation with Cameroonian forces, Washington is obligated to ensure that assistance is not tantamount to complicity. With investment comes the responsibility and leverage to ease the extent of human suffering.

Tensions between Anglophone and Francophone populations in the Cameroon’s northwest and southwest regions (NWSW) have been simmering since the 1970s. In late 2016, however, the government imposed Francophone teachers and lawyers in Anglophone schools and courts, prompting peaceful protests that were met with military action. This fueled existing separatist sentiment among the Anglophone population and led to the formation of several non-state armed groups.

Clashes between these armed groups and Cameroonian forces, as well as attacks on civilians, have forced more than half a million people into the NWSW’s dense forests, without proper shelter and little access to food and basic services. Separatist groups have enforced school boycotts since 2017, leaving a generation of children without education for three years.

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