For several years, Cameroon has been mired in an unresolved separatist crisis that started in the northwest and southwest — two regions dominated by Anglophone minorities.
With the 2021 edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) opening Jan. 9 in Cameroon, among the matches that will be held, two cities in the southwest, Limbe and Buea, are prepared to host eight games in a worrying climate for many observers despite the security arsenal that has been deployed.
The crisis, which the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) considered “the most neglected on the planet,” is for the International Crisis Group (ICG) “the main security problem” in this Central African country.
Cameroon, which continues to suffer from a political crisis and terror attacks in the north, is subjected to the separatist issue that erupted in late 2016.
The English-speaking minority in this bilingual country feels marginalized and has expressed its need for federalism or separatism through multiple demonstrations.
The conflict has escalated, making the English-speaking area a theatre of violence’s that has resulted in 3,000 deaths and the displacement of more than 730,000 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
A national dialogue that began Sept. 30, 2019, shortly after the arrests of separatist leaders, did not have the presence of all stakeholders, let alone the expected appeasement.
Authorities have repeatedly called on separatists to lay down their arms by promising “full law force” against opponents of the request.
But the crisis continues.
If the government and separatists could have ended the conflict, they would have, according to Arrey Elvis Ntui, a senior Cameroonian expert with the ICG.