The government of Switzerland is leading a mediation process in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, in hopes of bringing an end to conflict that’s marked the West African nation for nearly three years.
The Swiss foreign affairs ministry said it completed a second round of meetings on Thursday in preparation of future peace negotiations between the Cameroonian government led by President Paul Biya, and opposition leaders in the Anglophone regions.
“The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is working to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in northwestern and southwestern Cameroon, in collaboration with the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue,” the Swiss government said in a statement.
“The FDFA is following with concern the continuing violence in the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon, which particularly affects the civilian population,” the ministry added. “Switzerland is also investing in humanitarian aid for the affected local populations and has supported Cameroon in the field of multilingualism.”
The FDFA said it will not comment on the process in keeping with Switzerland’s principles of neutrality and discretion.
Cameroon’s crisis began with peaceful protests, led by lawyers, teachers and other professionals, against structural discrimination in October 2016. Their calls for reforms sparked a wider movement that was crushed by the 86-year-old Biya, who has been in power for nearly four decades.
An armed separatist movement evolved in response to the political and social tensions, which have warranted significant international concern. Armed violence and attacks have forced 450,000 people from their homes, about half of them children, said UNICEF spokesman Toby Fricker during a press briefing in Geneva last week.
Image: Contra Nocendi file