Partner church PCC deplores continuing violence in Cameroon

Over 710,000 people have fled armed conflict in Cameroon since 2017. Photo: zVg

The shooting erupted suddenly on Sunday, August 22, in the immediate vicinity of the Ntanfoang Church in Bali in the English-speaking part of Cameroon. The congregation belongs to the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon (PCC), partner church of Mission 21. The congregation members had gathered for worship when they were startled by an explosion outside. Numerous shots were fired, some of which penetrated the walls. A member of the congregation was fatally shot and the pastor was wounded in the arm.

This is how the church leadership describes it in a communiqué. Shaken and traumatized, the communiqué continues, church members took the shot woman and the injured pastor to the hospital. Here, the bullet was surgically removed and he is now on the road to recovery.

Renewed outbreak of violence in long-running conflict

The PCC leadership responded to the outbreak of violence with its communiqué on the same day. The church, said leader Samuel Fonki, "strongly condemns this mistreatment of God's children." Fonki generally deplores the "barbaric torture" against the people of Cameroon's two English-speaking provinces, which has now been going on for about five years. From both sides, government troops as well as separatist militiamen, violence against the innocent civilian population would be carried out again and again.

Fonki notes that the parties to the conflict have always ignored the church's demands for an end to the fighting. The Church has persistently demanded an unconditional ceasefire, especially on Sundays. The Church demands an investigation into the violence and that those responsible for the woman's death be held accountable.

Persistence and publicity needed

This further outbreak of violence in Cameroon shines a spotlight on a conflict that is still largely forgotten and ignored by institutions and world public opinion. Since the fall of 2017, militant separatists and government forces have been fighting each other in the English-speaking areas of western Cameroon. Once again, it is the civilian population that suffers in this armed conflict.

According to official UN figures, more than 710,000 people are on the run. They live without shelter or protection in the forests and in the provincial capitals of Buea and Bamenda or in francophone Cameroon; at least another 60,000 people have fled to Nigeria. An estimated 4,000 people have died in this conflict so far.

Support for those affected

Everyday life for the people in the two Anglophone regions is characterized by hardship and fear. Public life is paralyzed during so-called "ghost town" days. Children and young people have been unable to go to school for several years, or only to a limited extent.

Mission 21 has been present in Cameroon for decades and works with its partner church PCC and other local organizations, for example to improve healthcare and empower young people and women through education. Since the outbreak of the conflict, we have been increasingly supporting the disadvantaged people of Cameroon with emergency aid and reconstruction work, with the aim of contributing to the hope of peaceful coexistence in this country.

Text: Christoph Rácz, photo: zVg

► Statement of the PCC against the current violence in Cameroon (in English)

► Statement of the Ecumenical Forum of August 27 on the fatal incident of violence (in English).

► Mission 21's Cameroon Program for Emergency Relief and Reconstruction

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