Women of Churches in Cameroon call for an immediate halt to Violence

On 21 September, International Day of Peace, women from a wide coalition of churches in Cameroon released a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire after violent conflict in the Anglophone region [1].

Women from churches in Cameroon’s Anglophone region have called on both the government-controlled military and armed separatist groups to immediately cease violent conflict. Their statement requested that both parties sign a written ceasefire agreement by November of this year, to ensure a six month ‘pilot ceasefire’, during which peace-making negotiations could occur [2].

Cameroon’s Anglophone region has experienced over four years of violent conflict between the military and separatist groups, centring around disagreements between the Anglophile minority population and Francophile majority and government [3]. To date over 3000 people have been killed. As of July this year, the UN found that 4.33 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Cameroon [4] as a result of both this conflict, and ongoing violence in northern regions of the country.

At the end of 2019, around 700,000 people had been internally displaced in the Anglophone region [5] and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the impact on the communities affected.

Recent weeks have seen an escalation of violence, with the government cracking down in an effective military siege on regional capital Bamenda. Local churches have reported reporting looting by soldiers, food and medicine shortages and frequent human rights abuses on local people [6]

In response to this situation, the statement makes reference to the disproportionate effect of violent conflict on women, arguing that they ‘bear the brunt of … violent conflict irrespective of historical background, cultural, linguistic and political affiliation’ [7].  Drawing on the United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1325 which highlights that peace efforts are more sustainable when women are involved, the statement asks that negotiation commissions created following this ceasefire are gender balanced and involve female community leaders [8].

This statement joins a number of pre-existing calls for a ceasefire. In April of this year, the JPIT partner Churches joined the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire to allow countries to respond to the threat of coronavirus [9]. Following this, on 1 July, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution expressing their support for a global ceasefire, demanding general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda [10].

The Presbyterian Church in Cameroon is coordinating ecumenical work on dialogue and peace.  On the International Day of Peace, the Church held a service centred around ‘Shaping Peace Together’. The service’s sermon began with the reading of Psalm 34:14; ‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.’ As we look at the Anglophile crisis in Cameroon from abroad, we should echo the Church in Cameroon’s prayer that peace be sought and pursued. We should thank God for this community of women that embody this, and ask that the demands laid out in their statement are adopted in full.

Prayer for the situation in Cameroon
God of hope, 
We thank you that you bring peace where there is conflict,
 healing where there is pain, 
and unity where there is division. 
We pray for those in Cameroon who are displaced from their homes, 
separated from their families, 
and facing the dangers of COVID-19 without a safe place to stay.
We lift up to you all that have lost loved ones to violence, 
had their livelihoods destroyed, 
and their education taken away from them. 
We ask that you bring them comfort. 
We thank you for this group of women who are actively seeking your peace and pursing it for their country, 
all those working in Cameroon to protect the vulnerable, 
and those bringing healthcare to the sick.
You call the peacemakers blessed, and claim them as your children.
Would they be a light for others, 
and an example of your love.
We ask that you would guide all those involved in decision making within this conflict,
that they would grant this request of a ceasefire,
and there would be an end to the violence.
Let your peace prevail Lord. 

[1] Ceasefire Call by Women statement attached below

[2] Ceasefire Call by Women statement attached below

[3] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/cameroon/report-cameroon/

[4] https://www.unfpa.org/data/emergencies/cameroon-humanitarian-emergency

[5] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/cameroon/report-cameroon/

[6] Statement by Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in

[7] Ceasefire Call by Women Statement attached below

[8] http://undocs.org/en/S/RES/1325(2000)

[9] http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/global-ceasefire-statements/

[10] http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/un-security-council-adopts-the-call-for-a-global-ceasefire/


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