Mission 21 concerned: 78 pupils of partner church in Cameroon kidnapped

Students at a PCC school in Cameroon, symbolic image. Photo: Heiner Heine/Mission 21

The boarding school belongs to the Presbyterian Church. The president of the church, Samuel Fonki, said that the kidnappers demanded the closure of the school. Eleven students had already been kidnapped on October 31, and were released at that time in exchange for a ransom payment.

The church had reopened the school, which is attended by more than 600 children, only two weeks ago. In doing so, it had resisted the demand of separatists to keep their schools closed as an expression of resistance against the central government in Yaoundé. In doing so, the church insisted on the human right to education.

The church leadership released a statement on Tuesday night. In it, it condemns the act and demands that the perpetrators release the abductees immediately and unconditionally. The church appeals to the parties to the conflict in Cameroon to respect the integrity of schoolchildren. It calls on the government to urgently resolve the crisis in the country. The Church asks the international community to seek ways to assist in the resolution of the crisis.

The chairman of the church, Samuel Fonki Forba, told Mission 21 that they had already accepted the kidnappers' demand to close the school. The kidnappers claim to be separatists, but their identity is still unclear. The church leadership was sent a video of about five minutes by the kidnappers, it is also available to Mission 21. The video shows some of the intimidated students. Fonki explains that the purpose of the video was apparently to increase pressure on the church.

The kidnapping is linked to the conflict in Cameroon between the French-speaking central government and the two English-speaking regions in western Cameroon. The conflict intensified when separatists declared the independence of the regions on October 1, 2017. According to aid organizations, more than 400,000 people are on the run because of the conflict. 

In summer 2018, Mission 21 responded to the plight of the civilian population that had fled and launched an emergency relief and reconstruction project in Cameroon, together with the PCC and the Baptist Church of Cameroon. The church is broadly anchored and accepted among the population. The emergency aid project also includes measures to provide refugee children and young people with education in an informal way. This gives them the chance of a future beyond poverty and violence.

► Read entire media release

► Statement of the Presbyterian Church

► Emergency aid project Cameroon

 

 

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