Bamenda, Cameroon – Armed groups are fighting for a separate state in English-speaking parts of Cameroon and government forces are hitting back with brute force.
Caught in the crossfire, civilians are trying to stay alive in a deadly conflict the world knows little about.
In 2016, as lawyers, students and teachers in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon began protesting what they saw as their cultural marginalisation and under-representation in the central government, security forces hit back.
Several armed separatist groups emerged and self-declared their independence from Cameroon on October 1, 2017, calling their new country “Ambazonia”. Members of armed groups are known to locals as “the boys”.
Since then, atrocities have been committed by both sides and the escalating conflict has forced more than 730,000 people to flee. Many have been killed, tortured, raped, assaulted and kidnapped. Those who manage to survive watched helplessly as their villages burned to the ground and their children were left with no access to school.
Because of fears of repercussions if caught speaking out, the voices of those affected are rarely heard. In addition, there is limited access available for independent journalists to report on the crisis.
The lack of international attention, support and diplomacy have left Cameroon a neglected crisis with no end in sight for more than one million people in need.