Jun 2018

On June 20, 2018, the Government released an Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Plan for the North-West and South-West Regions. 2018-2019. This document is presented as a response to the sociopolitical crisis that has shaken the two English-speaking regions of our country for almost two years.

By this famous plan, the regime seems finally to discover – albeit under the pressure of the international community since it is indifferent to all the patriotic calls coming from Cameroonians other than those of its political mould – the scale of the humanitarian, social and economic disaster caused by the ongoing civil war in the two regions concerned, that a minimum of patriotism and good political sense would have helped to avoid.

This plan, estimated at 12.7 billion CFA francs, is perplexing. Indeed, the timing of his announcement places it more in a simple diplomatic counter-offensive than in a concerted government project designed to accompany a real plan to end the crisis. This involves the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of insurgents in the two warring regions, followed by an inclusive dialogue on the demands of the populations of these regions.

More serious, the personality of Mr Paul ATANGA NJI, very controversial Minister of the Territorial Administration whose responsibility in the deterioration of the situation in the two English-speaking regions is undeniable, is not likely to reassure the thousands of Cameroonians who have become displaced persons in their country or/and refugees abroad.

On the modality of financing the plan, it is unacceptable that a Government which has forcedly  preferred the war against its people to the political dialogue, even if it is responsible for authentic political mistakes in this anglophone question such as the stubborn refusal of the application of the laws on decentralization or the provocative arrogance of some ministers and senior officials where humility and attention could have deescalated the crisis, is asking the poor Cameroonians and especially the civil servants – whose incomes barely enable them to survive – to finance its so-called humanitarian plan.

The Plan rightly mentions the loss of life of 84 people including 32 soldiers, 42 gendarmes, 7 police and penitentiary officers and 1 Eco-guard. The CRM militants and sympathizers, some of whom have members of their families among this category of victims, bow to the supreme sacrifice of these Cameroonians. However, it cannot fail to note the occultation of many deaths among civilian populations, not engaged in the fighting, killed both by the defense and security forces and by those who confront the army, but also among Cameroonians having unfortunately took up arms against their homeland.

The choice made by the power to conceal these other numerous deaths in this conflict is an indicator of the state of mind of those who manage the State. Such a choice worries. It suggests that the Government considers that the lives of some Cameroonians do not count. Such a message is not likely to force the military and security forces engaged in the field of operations in both regions to respect moral jurisdiction. Highlighted with the denunciations of national and international organizations specialized in abuses committed in the two regions at war, the contempt displayed by the Government for civilian deaths or even for armed combatants is a bad message sent to those who, within defense and security forces, only dream of revenge.

The CRM is calling on the regime to abandon this vindictive and resentful attitude, unworthy of the Government which is in charge of managing the country’s affairs. It is its responsibility to create the conditions for an indispensable appeasement for the opening of a real political dialogue.

The emergency Plan announced by the Government is politically stillborn, if its ambition as posted is to allow the return of thousands of refugees and displaced people to their usual living places, because it is not part of the approach of an overall settlement of the Anglophone crisis. If this were the case, a demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) program would be implemented and accompany the political settlement of the conflict. At a time when the Government is trying to sell this famous Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Plan for the North-West and South-West regions to the foreign partners of our country, others are still falling almost daily, killed by other Cameroonians, and many others are forced by the fighting to go into exile.

In short, the war is far from over in the regions concerned and in the obvious absence of a will to resolve the crisis politically, this plan is simply not credible. It will end up like many other emergency plans before it, that is to say without any conclusive results, because they were political operations, badly prepared and doomed to failure because of serious problems of corruption and embezzlement of public project funding that have become chronic under the so-called “New Deal” regime. What has become of the Emergency Plan of the North and Far North Regions announced by the Prime Minister before the National Assembly in June 2015 and projected at 200 billion? or the three-year emergency plan of the President of the Republic, announced with great fanfare for the amount of nearly 1,000 billion of our francs? Like the highly controversial management of the 1994 “Coup de Coeur Operation” for the Indomitable Lions, the management of the donations collected for soldiers engaged in the northern regions about two years ago, this umpteenth emergency plan only inspires confidence in their initiators, who, by the way, do not believe it themselves. It simply allows them to divert attention to the imperative of the political resolution of the crisis, to which they are not prepared.

For its part, the CRM reiterates that only an inclusive dialogue can put an end to this civil war that is tearing our country apart. The diplomatico-humanitarian staging carried out by the Government through this assistance plan cannot replace this dialogue to which all persons, national and international organizations of goodwill have been inviting the power for so long now.

The Communication Team

Yaoundé, 25 June 2018