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Humanitarian Bulletin Cameroon | Number 08 | Special Edition | North-West South-West Crisis | June 2018

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Cameroon
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OCHA
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HIGHLIGHTS

HIGHLIGHTS

• The current crisis in North-West and South-West regions erupted in October 2016 with protests over perceived marginalisation. It has degenerated into armed violence and insecurity.

• The escalation of tension and hostilities between non-state armed groups and defence and security forces triggered major humanitarian needs across the two regions, linked to significant internal displacement

• In May 2018, the humanitarian community launched a three-month Emergency Response Plan to assist 160,000 internally displaced persons.

Crisis with colonial roots

The crisis in Cameroon’s North-West and South-West regions that has uprooted around 160,000 people from their homes and forced more than 21,000 others to seek refuge in neighbouring Nigeria has roots in the country’s colonial past.

At the end of the First World War, then Kamerun and German colony since 1884, was placed under Franco-British protectorate. Much of the country was under French supervision while Britain administered the western region bordering Nigeria.

The French-speaking region gained independence in 1960 and became the Republic of Cameroon. In a referendum the following year, the British-administered Southern Cameroon voted to unify with the Republic of Cameroon. Southern Cameroon became the present day North-West and South-West regions. A United republic of Cameroon was formed in 1972. In 1984, the word “united” was abolished and the Republic of Cameroon was established. Feelings of marginalisation and resistance to the assimilation of the English-speaking minority to French-speaking majority later emerged.

October 2016 uprising and acts of violence

Tensions leading to the current crisis erupted in October 2016 in Bamenda, capital of the North-West region with a strike by English-speaking lawyers demanding respect of the Common Law and the translation into English of the Code of the Organization for the Harmonization Business Law in Africa and other laws. Weeks later, teachers also mobilized, organizing a rally against lack of English-speaking teachers and the nonrespect of the "Anglo-Saxon" education system in the English-speaking regions.

Thousands of students and citizens joined them, driven by various demands ranging from the lack of decentralization of power to the lack of investment in infrastructure.

The strikes initiated in the North-West, gradually spread to the South-West region. Police clampdown on a university student march and at a political rally in Bamenda fanned the crisis.
Despite a Government-led dialogue mission on 25 November 2016, trust between the administration and the English-speaking activists gradually eroded.