The Platform

A Cameroonian policeman and a gendarme patrol in Lysoka, near Buea, in Cameroon's Anglophone South-West region, in 2018. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/Voice of America)

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis requires more inclusive and effective strategic responses from the government, regional bodies, and the international community to achieve lasting peace.

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis, also called the Ambazonia War or the Cameroonian Civil War, stemming from historical grievances of the English-speaking minority, has evolved into a complex conflict with profound humanitarian implications. What initially began in 2016 as a peaceful protest against perceived marginalization, has escalated into a devastating civil war. The conflict has led to widespread human rights abuses, displacement of civilians, and economic disruptions, highlighting the urgent need for effective strategic responses.

The Cameroonian government’s approach to the Anglophone Crisis has predominantly been militaristic, relying heavily on security forces to suppress dissent in the Anglophone regions. This has led to widespread reports of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests, raising concerns about the government’s respect for human rights and its commitment to peaceful conflict resolution.

While the government has initiated dialogue processes, these efforts have been criticized for their lack of inclusivity and failure to address the root causes of the crisis. Additionally, the government has implemented various development projects in the Anglophone regions, aiming to address some of the socio-economic issues contributing to the conflict. However, these efforts have been overshadowed by ongoing security operations and allegations of government repression, highlighting the need for a more holistic and inclusive approach to conflict resolution.

Regional bodies, including the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), have expressed concern over the Anglophone Crisis and called for a peaceful resolution. However, their efforts have been hampered by limited engagement and a lack of effective mediation. The AU has emphasized the need for inclusive dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict and promote reconciliation between the government and Anglophone separatist groups. Similarly, ECCAS has supported the government’s efforts to restore peace but has struggled to play a decisive role in mediating the conflict. The challenges faced by regional bodies highlight the complexities of the crisis and the need for greater regional cooperation and coordination in addressing conflicts in the region.

The international community, including the United Nations and the European Union, have condemned the violence in Cameroon and called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The UN has urged the Cameroonian government to address the root causes of the conflict and respect human rights, while the EU has suspended development aid over concerns about human rights abuses. Despite these efforts, the international community’s influence on the conflict remains limited, with the Cameroonian government dismissing international criticism as interference in its internal affairs. However, international actors continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis, demonstrating a commitment to alleviating the suffering of civilians caught in the conflict.

Regional bodies such as the AU and ECCAS have expressed concern but have struggled to play a meaningful role in resolving the crisis, highlighting challenges in regional mediation efforts. The international community’s condemnation and calls for peaceful resolution have had limited impact, with the Cameroonian government dismissing international criticism. Overall, the strategic responses to the Anglophone Crisis have been insufficient in addressing the root causes and promoting sustainable peace, emphasizing the need for a more inclusive and comprehensive approach.

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis represents a significant challenge to peace and stability in the region, requiring a multifaceted and inclusive approach to resolution. While various strategic responses have been employed, their effectiveness has been limited by a lack of genuine dialogue and accountability. Moving forward, all stakeholders need to prioritize inclusive dialogue, respect for human rights, and sustainable development to address the root causes of the crisis and pave the way for lasting peace in Cameroon. Additionally, regional and international actors must enhance their coordination and collaboration to support a comprehensive and sustainable resolution to the crisis, ensuring a peaceful future for all Cameroonians.

Humma Rehman Qureshi is a researcher at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.