The United Nations human rights office said Tuesday it is increasingly concerned over the violence in Cameroon, and said it stands ready to help the West African nation deal with its crisis.
“We continue to receive reports of abductions and killings by armed groups, as well as extrajudicial killings by State armed forces,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) during a press briefing in Geneva.
Beyond the abduction and later release of 80 people at a school in Bamenda this month, the office is aware of other incidents in the past two weeks including the abduction of eight students in Kumba and 13 nuns in Bamessing – Ndop. They were all later released, but the attacks on schools continue.
“There are also reports of the abduction and killing of police officers and administrative authorities,” Shamdasani said. “In recent months, Cameroonian armed forces have allegedly carried out a number of extrajudicial executions in the Northwest and Southwest regions.”
What began as protests against structural discrimination in October 2016 in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon escalated into ever-worsening violence. At least 436,000 people are believed to be internally displaced, OHCHR said, while more than 30,000 have fled to Nigeria since September 2017.
“We call on armed secessionists groups to refrain from the use of violence. We urge the Government to respect and protect the rights of all,” the UN agency said, appealing for dialogue to remedy the grievances and investigate human rights violations.
The OHCHR hopes to see the situation firsthand through an assessment mission, and begin working with the government o bring an end to the crisis.
Image: Contre Nocendi file