Southern Cameroons: Fulani Pro-Government Militia Burns Down Homes , Hospitals and Churches, Locals Flee to Nigeria
Marauding Fulani herdsmen have killed at least eight people and torched 94 houses, three churches and a health centre in Nwa subdivision in the troubled North West region.
The Herdsmen, apparently supported by the Cameroon government, initially set out to fight pro-independence fighters.
“The herdsmen used to give out information about separatists to the government,” said a local administrator who for security reasons would not be named.
“As a consequence, separatist fighters started attacking them, and the Fulanis sought reinforcement from Nigeria. What they are doing now are simply reprisal attacks against separatists”, he said.
But that argument is a hard sell for locals who say the Fulanis are only exploiting the situation of insecurity to foster a long-standing ambition of grabbing their land for grazing.
Adamu Edward Lambe, Local Politician in Donga-Mantung (C) News Upfront
“The people killed were between the ages of 60 and 80. An eighty-year-old woman was shot and killed in her home. They were too old to run away,” said Member of Parliament for Nwa, Edward Lambe, questioning why old people should be the target if they (the herdsmen) set out in search of pro-independence fighters.
“They didn’t kill a single separatist fighter,” he said.
He said almost 60% of the houses in Ntong, Njang, Fam and Ntim and Saam quarters have been burnt down along with three churches and a health centre.
“So, the people desperately need where to live. We are in the month of March and rains will soon be around, I don’t know how they will cope. It’s a desperate situation and I think the state needs to do something. We are pleading on all humanitarian organizations to help. This is one of the worst moments; it’s such a pathetic situation.
“Even the small hospital structure that we had in Ntong was also burnt down. Some schools were burnt down. Even though schools weren’t going on, we need the structures to be there so that when the situation gets calm and to the level that we expect, then the children can go back to school,” Lambe lamented.
He said hundreds have fled to Nigeria but have found unwelcoming neighbours there.
He said many are still in the bushes because they could not move into Nigeria and “it’s very difficult for them now.”
“The houses that were burnt, it’s very difficult for them to live there. So, these are some of the difficulties we have. The basics, even the simple clothes they could wear, most of them don’t have since they just dived out of their homes and ran; and everything of theirs, birth certificates, identity cards, everything must have been burnt down. So, they are really desperate”.
Public officials say the military has stepped in, but there is rising concern that it could cause more trouble for the people of Nwa, given that government soldiers and herdsmen have been working together to stamp out the pro-independence insurgency. The Ngarbuh massacre of February 14, 2020, was blamed on the Cameroon military acting in collaboration with the Fulani armed men.
Nwa Village has been completely emptied after the bloody attacks
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Yaounde on Wednesday issued a statement expressing concern about the reports of communal violence in the subdivision.
“We urge calm and call for an immediate cessation of violence, which has reportedly led to several deaths and the looting and burning of houses, markets, and churches in at least five villages,” the release states.
“We call on authorities to take all possible steps to ensure security for residents of Nwa, significant numbers of whom have reportedly been displaced and are now in need of humanitarian assistance. We offer our condolences to all those affected by this violence and urge authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation and to hold perpetrators accountable. It is essential that steps be taken to ease tensions and promote tolerance and mutual understanding within the affected communities.”
The incident comes on the heels of a damning report published by Human Rights Watch accusing the Cameroon military of committing mass rape, torture, looting and other rights violations in the same locality.