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Cameroon: unreported struggles

September brought the news that Northern Cameroon is more than ever in the sights of Boko Haram, as details of atrocities committed by the radical Islamic sect from neighbouring Nigeria continue to emerge.

World Watch Monitor

Figure Image
The UN camp for Nigerian refugees in northern Cameroon in July| photo: World Watch Monitor

The militant sect, which now controls several major Nigerian towns, has set up a caliphate with a strict implementation of shari’a law.

A lawmaker told the BBC that the dead bodies of civilians remained littered on the streets of Bama, a key town of Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state – seized by Boko Haram. Christians in the occupied areas are being persecuted, it is reported. Christian men have been caught and beheaded while women have been forced to convert and to get married to militants.

Mockery of a border

Their offensive has forced thousands of civilians to flee into neighbouring Cameroon. Making a mockery of the border (which the Cameroon authorities say they’ve closed to prevent the spread of the ebola virus), militants have intensified their attacks on Cameroon’s villages and towns. As in Nigeria, Christian populations are particularly targeted.

This is particularly true of the village of Cherif Moussary, where a church was ransacked and the pastor’s residence burned down. Many Christian families were stripped of their properties; even kitchen utensils were not spared, said local sources.


A similar act of desecration was reported at Mouldougoua village. At Assighassia (occupied for days by militants before they were ousted by the army) two church elders – Zerubbabel Tchamaya and Samuel Lada – were beheaded. In Djibrilli village, a pastor was kidnapped, threatened and asked about his faith by militants before being released the following day.

In July, the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister was kidnapped, raising the fear that northern Cameroon, long seen as a rear base for the militants, has become a new battle field for them. She was rescued two days later, after a fierce battle between her kidnappers and the army.

Churches helping with influx

For months, the churches have been trying to contain the influx of Nigerian refugees and internally displaced people. The Council of Protestant Churches in the Far North region has set up a crisis committee. The Revd Samuel Heteck, one of the regional leaders, said: ‘The action of our churches has initially consisted of providing the refugees and IDPs with food, shelter and medicines. But now the capacity of our churches is overwhelmed, as their number has increased up to threefold’.

In the meantime, cross-border raids and atrocities have continued, pushing more people to flee. ‘Every week we welcome new waves of refugees coming from all sides. More than 9,600 displaced people were recorded in two weeks. Some are welcomed within church compounds and others in the UN Minawao refugee camp in Mokolo’, said Samuel Heteck.

Missionaries leave

The deterioration of security has forced missionaries and expatriates, employed mainly in social work, to leave the area. Their departure has significantly reduced the response capacity of the churches, as local staffs were not prepared to face such a crisis.

Activities aimed at raising funds or generating momentum for prayer are held by local churches. A day of fundraising and voluntary donations is set for October 19, in all Protestant churches in Cameroon.

Unlike the regions to the south, the Far North of Cameroon is a vast, semi-desert, very poor area. Some accuse successive political leaders of abandoning the north, which is in great need of basic infrastructure, and in which banditry and all sorts of trafficking operations have developed.

World Watch Monitor has produced a timeline of events to help us to understand the rapid spread of ‘Islamic State’, IS. It can be found using this link: http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/storymapjs/latest/embed/?url=https://676927b365776ace8ccbcb48bdd9017f547d03eb.googledrive.com/host/0B1w22KMgTWuBTUFRZGNWTnhhNms/published.json