Cameroon: British MPs Ramp-up Pressure on UK Gov’t to Act on Ongoing Genocide in Southern Cameroons

Members of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom have issued an Early Days Motion expressing concern over the ongoing genocide in the Southern Cameroons. The motion also urges the British government to “…work with its global partners and use all diplomatic means at its disposal to assist in de-escalating the violence and resolving the underlying conflicts including using diplomatic measures to encourage all sides to call a temporary cessation of military activities and to participate in inclusive peace talks mediated by an impartial third party; and further calls on the UK Government to ensure that people affected by the humanitarian crisis receive adequate support and aid”.

The Parliamentarians note that “…this House is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Cameroon’s north west and south west regions; condemns the deliberate and continued killings of innocent civilians and grave violations against children since the start of the conflict in 2016; sends its sincerest condolences to all those who have tragically lost loved ones as a result…”

Picking up from where the Labour Member of Parliament, Emily Thornberry ended during the recent vote on the House of Commons bearing human rights concerns during the signing of trade deals, the MPs point to the worsening humanitarian situation on the territory. The MPs’ worries find justification in the revelations “…that according to The International Crisis Group and the UN over 4,000 people have been killed, 765,000 people displaced, and four million people have been affected by the humanitarian crisis and that around 800,000 children are out of school…”

Kwakwa in the South-west was among the first villages to be burnt to ashes (C) Pan African Visions

The lawmakers also express disappointment that despite the horrific crimes and targeted killings in Southern Cameroons, the international community has grossly neglected the suffering people and abandoned them at the mercy of President Biya’s military.

They point out consequently that “This House further notes that the Norwegian Refugee Council declared the conflict in Cameroon as the most neglected crisis on the planet for the second year running; urges the UK Government to publicly condemn the violence and bring to light all crimes and injustices”.

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed. As there is no specific time allocated to EDMs very few are debated. However, many attract a great deal of public interest and media coverage. Generally, Early Day Motions are used to put on record the views of individual MPs or to draw attention to specific events or campaigns. Topics covered by EDMs vary widely.

A key strength of EDMs is that by attracting the signatures of other MPs, they can be used to demonstrate the level of Parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view. Records demonstrate that in an average session only six or seven EDMs reach over two hundred signatures. Usually, around seventy or eighty get over one hundred signatures, though the majority will attract only one or two signatures. But there is no rule whereby the number of signatures affects the likelihood of an EDM being debated.

Given their specific nature, Ministers, Whips and Parliamentary Private Secretaries do not normally sign EDMs.  The Ministerial Code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties and includes guidance for Parliamentary Private Secretaries. Also, neither the Speaker nor Deputy Speakers will sign EDMs as their role requires them to be politically impartial, just as internal party rules may also affect who can sign early day motions.

Millions of Southern Cameroonians on the territory occasionally flood the streets in support (C) Discover Africa News

The current EDM on the ongoing genocide in Southern Cameroons has this far attracted twelve signatures and counting. The political background of the signatories of the EDM is indicative of the fact that the indignation over the perceived human rights abuses and the worsening humanitarian situation in the former UN Trust Territory under British stewardship cuts across party belonging. The signatories this far are drawn from the Liberal Democrats, Democratic Unionists, the Scottish National Party, and Independents.

News of the floating of this EDM comes on the heels of the visit to Cameroon January 31 to February 2 of the Secretary of State at the Vatican, Pietro Cardinal Parolin. The Cardinal reportedly served Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya a mail from the Pope offering to mediate a peace deal to end the bloodshed.

Pietro Cardinal Parolin’s visit has already attracted support from the United States’ Senate Foreign Relations Committee. An official of the Committee tweeted “I welcome the visit by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to Bamenda to send a message of peace & reconciliation. The international community must continue to raise awareness of #Cameroon’shorrific #Anglophone crisis & support efforts to end the conflict”.