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‘Dirty war’ ravages Cameroon’s Buea region

ReliefWeb | In Summary

  • The insurgency began in 2016, when activists in the anglophone minority, stepped up a campaign for greater autonomy.
  • Buea is the last outpost for journalists and non-governmental organisations as far as the government is concerned.


They call it a “dirty war” — a silent conflict in Cameroon’s anglophone region marked by near-daily attacks by separatists and a brutal army backlash that shows no sign of abating.

Over the past eight months, scores of police, soldiers and civilians have died in the heartland of francophone Cameroon’s English-speaking minority.

Homes have been torched, shops looted, complaints of summary arrest and detention are common and, according to UN estimates, tens of thousands have fled their homes.

“In less than two weeks, there were attacks on the motorcades of the chief of staff, the governor and me as well,” General Donatien Nouma Melingui, in charge of military operations in the Southwest Region, which with the neighbouring Northwest Region is home to most of Cameroon’s anglophones, said.

“The attacks come from everywhere. There are many small groups,” he said in Buea, the Southwest Region’s main city.


The insurgency began in 2016, when activists in the anglophone minority, comprising about a fifth of the country’s population of 22 million, stepped up a campaign for greater autonomy.

President Paul Biya rejected their demands, prompting radicals to make a full-blown but symbolic declaration of independence last October 1.

Since then, separatists have killed well over 30 members of the security forces, according to an AFP toll based on official figures.

But the complete toll from the violence is unclear, and commentators say it is likely to be much higher.

Local people, meanwhile, openly describe it as a “dirty war”.


Buea is the last outpost for journalists and non-governmental organisations as far as the government is concerned.

Authorities say they cannot guarantee the safety of people who venture beyond the verdant rolling hills outside the city.

“Armed men emerge from the forest to check vehicles. If you are a French-speaking Cameroonian or French or a soldier, you’re dead,” Matthias Ekeke, a rapporteur of the National Commission of Human Rights, said.

According to UN estimates, tens of thousands of people are internally displaced in Cameroon, a one-time German colony that was divided between France and Britain after World War I.

In 1961, the English-speaking Southern Cameroons joined newly-independent francophone Cameroon, despite complaints that this was a forced marriage.


Today, anglophones complain of marginalisation in education, the judiciary and the economy and having French imposed on them.

“The government is ignoring the aspirations of the anglophones and the situation is on the verge of the point of no return,” Monsignor Emmanuel Bushu, the bishop of Buea, said.

“The army has killed a lot of people since October 1,” he said. “They fired on people like sitting ducks.”

A local priest laid blame on the government for exacerbating the crisis.

“It’s the army which has radicalised these youths it is now fighting. If Yaoundé had not started killing people, it could have settled the crisis,” he said.


General Melingui expressed little but scorn for the separatists, characterising them as “drugged youths armed with talismans” they believe give them magical powers.

But, he admitted “they know the terrain. These are youths from local villages. We try to seek them out but we can’t find them. Our men aren’t familiar with the forest.”

The army patrols some of the arterial roads and highways in the thickly forested area and are often attacked.

The separatists communicate over WhatsApp and use it to launch propaganda while the government issues statements to give its version of events.

“Both sides lie and they say whatever they want,” a rights activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Since nobody knows the number of civilian deaths or the number of displaced, the media does not speak about it,” a student in Buea, who identified himself as John, said.

“Both the army and the separatists commit excesses,” Blaise Chamango, the head of a non-governmental organisation called Human Is Right, said.

“But the soldiers are worse than the opposite camp and refuse to talk about it,” he said.


Locals and NGOs accuse soldiers of torching numerous villages in revenge attacks.

“We only burn houses where weapons were found,” Melingui said.

But more and more videos are circulating on social media showing Cameroonian soldiers burning houses, lending credence to accounts by fleeing villagers.

“Schools have been empty for the past year and security forces are openly racketeering,” Ekeke from the national rights commission said.

Gendarmes sometimes ask families of people detained to pay 30,000 CFA francs (45 euros, $50, Sh500) to secure their release, he added.

“It’s total chaos,” he said. “If the youths join the separatists it’s because they feel abandoned by the Cameroonian state.”

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  1. “…. in the heartland of francophone Cameroon’s English-speaking minority” ????

    • This stupid Cameroon gov’t holds all blame due to Biya arrogance to amicably solve this crisis. I don’t blame the Ambazonia Boyz for defending themselves. Their leaders abducted and no words about their well being. Tell me how will people no get angry? The only people that don’t understand the reason of this fighting are the majority French Cameroon and their occultic gov’t.

      • Do not bother yourself with Biya. Biya is God sent. Biya has inadvertently helped to resolve the Anglophone Question by declaring an UNWINNABLE war. This is so because his war will NEVER EVER end until the Anglophone Question is resolved.

        The FINAL SOLUTION to the Anglophone Question will be gotten this time around come rain come shine. There is nothing Biya, Macron or the citizens of LRC can do to prevent the resolution of the Anglophone Question this time around.
        The present momentum is UNSTOPPABLE, Biya’s war is UNWINNABLE, the time for dialogue is OVER. Biya’s war will end with negotiations between the belligerents.

        • Herr,
          Präsident Biya ist wie das Wetter oder der Deutschgrammatik. Man kann sich darüber beklagen, aber das wird nichts ändern!!!!!!!!

  2. #kill all terrorists in our country as well as their backers both home and abroad !

    • There goes Colby the cpdm troll.What a duche bag with a shithole mentality. May this week be your last week on earth son of a b*cth

    • Why not go to Buea or Bamenda and sing that nonsense openly and see how Amba forces will make you pay the same hour. Idiot.

    • Is it easy?Do you think the army can crush the Anglophones on their land?You speak like a novice.Today Anglophones also have guns .Its you shoot me I shoot you.

    • You with your masters the French, are the terrorists. Francophone camerounais are the most naive and ignorant bunch of humans on planet earth ttbomk.

    • May God punish your entire generation. I doubt if u have a child of ur own.

  3. @Colby yeah kill all terrorist starting with your mom. cpdm troll what a douche may this week be your last on earth son of a b*tch get a life.

  4. @ Cavani, not every comments is meant to respond at. Don’t waste your time to that sick lunatic called Colby.

  5. I’m still very confused as to what Ambazonian expect from the gov’t of Cameroon. No gov’t in the world can ever agree to the partition of its territory, and any gov’t would do what ever it takes to safeguard the integrity of the nation. We’ve seen that in the US with wars againts mexico for the southern States, we have seen that in England with the war in Falklands.
    Ambazonians stand their ground and want nothing less that separation, but yet they blame the gov’t for being stubborn.

    • Has your old government and his aging administration even admitted their errors? That should be an honest start and not promoting agents that helped escalated the problem to resolve it.

      • Yes, the gov’t has admitted its error, may be not in a ” public statement” as you would have hoped. They did so by freeing all those you were initially arrested in connection with this crisis, they did so by meeting every single demand the consortium had formulated. Asking for secession is just a buton too far.
        You gotta understand how governments work. The gov’t cannot appear to be weak otherwise it is CHAOS.

        • “….by freeing all those initially arrested,,,,”? Mancho Bibixy would love to hear you say this, Really?

          It would be nice for the nation if Issa Tchiroma Bakary were a rare “outlier” in a world of justice and truth.

    • You miss the point.There has been calls for dialogue from several international and local authorities and organizations.Why is Mr Biya not adhering to this call?

      • You miss my point. Are Ambazonians willing to give up secessionist ideas? Can they be happy with 10 States Federation for example? It seems to me that Ambazonian s are not willing to compromise, but they want to gov’t to do so.
        The gov’t demonstrated the willingness to resolve this crisis in many occasion, like freeing some people from jail. But it seemed that everytime the gov’t did so Ambazonians thought the gov’t was weakening and kept coming with more request like secession. You cant dictate your desire to a State. Not in Cameroon nor anywhere in the world.

        • Most Ambazonians want this to continue bc they have ,,gofundme. .they have no plan to stop.its either they have tbeir own country to rule and embezzle to live big or rely on go funf me. Its shame wicket amba leaders can allow their own to suffer bc they want riches

    • @ Jojo aka Internet troll,
      If the government can openly declare it cannot guarantee the safety of its subjects, what therefore is the use of such a government?

  6. A war ? I wasn’t aware one was being fought . I guess it ain’t making no noise . Well keep it that way . We don’t want to know , do whatever it takes to clean the area . This is losing its purpose , readership is declining so are comments/contributions this is due to the admin and owner spending weeks with the same ambashitnian stories . We are tired of it aren’t they other news you an come up with @ admin . And brother I’m saying this with no disrespect you know I appreciate your work but please 0n 10 articles on the front page 8 are about Ambazonia there is a level of saturation . Diminishing return .

  7. Biya and his cpdm comrades, don`t yet understand where the international community,
    is standing by prescribing dialogue, as the solution to the crisis. The time for reconning
    will come. Charles Taylor, ran away from his country without looking back, but today,
    he is neither hiding nor fighting. No amount of defence on his side, is helping him.
    Only a fool, i mean one called Biya, will dare fumble this much.
    Bravo Ambafighters, thou you fight and die like spatans, LIBERATION will come.

  8. @Jojo”Are Ambazonians willing to give up secessionist ideas?Can they be happy with 10 States Fed for example? It seems to me that Ambazonians are not willing to compromise,but they want the gov’t to do so”.If Biya had proposed 10 states federation,then your statement would have made sense.But the last time i checked,Biya says the form of the state is non-negotiable.So,who is blaming who,for fighting for seccession?This is a political crisis that needs a political solution.Freeing all from jail is one of the conditions for dialogue that the seccessionists gave.And the last time i checked,people are still in jail.Infact,some have been sentenced and some are still waiting for trial,while some are still been arrested.Biya want to divide CMR.We will help him in his mission.The war continues.

    • @ Kongo.., Ambalanders, have suffered more than enough to continue in
      accepting, to be spoonfed, period.

      • @Joshua, I agree with you. Being a minority is always an issue anywhere in the world, just like blacks in America. But the solution is never confronting the gov’t with weapons. You will lose. The solution is political, a battle of idea to build a perfect State, just like Switzerland did.
        The problem with some you today is that you assimilate Paul Biya and Cameroon. He is just a man that is srewing up our country. But he will pass a Cameroon will stay.

        • @jojo, we have scrutinized every aspect of the union and self
          rule, not colonization, is the best option. Long term best result,
          i assure you and when paul biya comes to earth again, he will
          like what he will see and blame france for fooling him during
          his years of dictatorship.

  9. “We only burn houses where weapons were found,” Melingui said”. Yesterday, General Melingui was removed and sent to the front office. He just escaped ICC by admitting his crime. Let us wait and see

  10. The is no doubt that the 86 years old is fighting a lost battle. No gov’t has ever won a war against his own people. The military and the resources are being reduced to dust level. The pple understand the terrain better and can sustain the fight for a very long period. Every day a youth becomes radicalized. This is a war of ideology so whether you suppress the people, you won’t suppress their build up mindset. Biya and his bunch of hell designed crime syndicates will end up their remaining lives in jail. only time will tell.

  11. Cameroonians seem to be the most stupid Africans..
    They are those people who know the truth, See the truth , but still believe in the lies ….

    Very very shameful country…