Over the past months, I have been surprised many times on how little is being reported in International media concerning the aggressions in Southern Cameroon provinces.
There were some articles in The Guardian but things seemed to halt there. Even those articles seemed to mainly make their way to those impacted and not really to the desk of politicians. I have quizzed a number of politicians (and journalists) I happened to know or got in touch with and most were not aware of any “situation” in the Southern Cameroons. Specifically the absence of articles in (usually quite comprehensive reporting) outlets like BBC, Africa News, Deutsche Welle and RFI was notable.
All compelling evidence submitted to ACMP and it’s members however was in our opinion definitely warranting political attention, so we actively pursued journalists on this matter. The reality unfortunately is that usually politicians act based on international attention in the media. Absence of this makes it hard for politicians in their usually full agenda to act, basically because of lack of awareness.
In this situation that was also the case, and when I alerted my political contacts at EU level, most were not even aware of any issue in Cameroon. The last known status was the internet blockage of beginning last year. When I met with Hilde Vautmans, who is member of the Foreign Committee and has a passion for Africa. She also acted as president of the Rwanda commission and therefor perfectly positioned to have an opinion un this matter.
Luckily, all efforts were not in vain and EU Parliamentarian Hilde Vautmans (ALDE) has asked written questions to the Foreign affairs commission of the EU, EEAS headed by Federica Mogherini.
The following questions were raised:
Clashes between insurgents and government forces for a breakaway republic in Cameroon’s English-speaking region have recently intensified.
The conflict began following peaceful protests by Anglophone teachers, who felt discriminated against. Anglophones, who make up 20% of Cameroon’s 23-million population, have over time felt marginalised in the socio-cultural, political and economic spheres by the Francophone-dominated government.
The separatist forces capitalised on the teachers’ protest, and stepped up pressure on the government, which responded to the crisis with counter-insurgency operations. While most Anglophones simply wished that their grievances be addressed, the more radical factions have called for independence for the self-declared state of Ambazonia. The security forces responded violently to these protests, killing scores of people and displacing 160 000.
What is the VP/HR’s position on the intercommunal violence in Cameroon, and what has been done so far in response?
What specific steps does the European External Action Service plan to take to alleviate the tensions in Cameroon and move towards a peaceful resolution?
According to some reports, FinFisher surveillance software, which was produced by European companies, was used by the Cameroonian Government to target the opposition. How will the VP/HR counter the indirect export of such cyber tools to Cameroon?
We now have to wait for the official answers from EEAS, and will update this story when they get available.