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Press Reelase: COVID-19 Ceasefire Challenge To Cameroon Government And Non-State Armed Groups

(Toronto, London)  A group of world leaders is calling on Cameroon’s warring parties to lower their weapons to let health workers tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former heads of state, and others are asking the government of Cameroon and the Anglophone militias fighting for independence to declare a humanitarian ceasefire, echoing the UN’s global ceasefire call. The conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions began in 2016 and has claimed thousands of lives and forced more than half a million people to flee their homes. Cameroon has one of Africa’s highest rates of COVID-19 infection, and civilians are caught between conflict and coronavirus.

The Global Campaign for Peace & Justice in Cameroon today issues a COVID-19 ceasefire challenge to the Cameroon government and the non-state armed group leaders in the Anglophone conflict. They also challenge select international bodies to use all tools at their disposal to encourage a ceasefire. They are joined by 15 respected leaders in the international community as follows:

Doctor Denis Mukwege

Nobel Peace Prize 2018

Panzi Hospital and Foundation, Democratic Republic of the Congo and United States of America

Professor Muhammad Yunus

Nobel Peace Prize 2006

Founder of the Grameen Bank, People’s Republic of Bangladesh

The Honourable José Ramos-Horta

Nobel Peace Prize 1996

Former President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

The Honourable FW de Klerk

Nobel Peace Prize 1993

Former President of the Republic of South Africa

The Honourable Oscar Arias Sánchez

Nobel Peace Prize 1987

Former President of the Republic of Costa Rica

The Right Honourable Joe Clark

Former Prime Minister of Canada

Former Foreign Minister and Minister of Constitutional Affairs of Canada

The Honourable Ricardo Lagos

Former President of Chile

International Council of Nurses

Swiss Confederation

The Right Honourable Harriet Baldwin, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom

Former United Kingdom Joint Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development

The Right Honourable Andrew Mitchell, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom

Former United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development

US Ambassador (ret.) R. Niels Marquardt

Former United States of America Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon

US Ambassador (ret.) John Yates

Former United States of America Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon

US Ambassador (ret.) Harriet Isom

Former United States of America Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon

Doctor Simon Adams

Executive Director of The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, United States of America

Ms. Ewelina U. Ochab

Co-Founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, United Kingdom

Cameroonian names are intentionally withheld

Together we:

  • Applaud UN Secretary-General Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire to mitigate COVID-19 in conflict zones, including in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions;
  • Echo this ceasefire call, and emphasize that COVID-19 cases cannot be reduced while infrastructure is being attacked, populations are harmed and displaced, and medical and humanitarian aid cannot reach all parts of the North-West and South-West regions; and note that the rate of coronavirus infection in Cameroon is among the highest in Africa;
  • Implore all parties to put the people’s immediate health, lives and livelihoods ahead of military objectives;
  • Challenge the warring parties in Cameroon’s Anglophone conflict to bravely and publicly declare a humanitarian ceasefire, as follows:

1 – We challenge the government and military of the Republic of Cameroon to call a ceasefire in the two Anglophone regions.

The government of the Republic of Cameroon holds a special responsibility to protect its citizens under international law. Citizens cannot be protected from COVID-19 and other catastrophic health threats in an active war zone. There should be a ceasefire to:

  • protect human life, health workers, patients, health facilities, and ambulances
    • allow unfettered access of humanitarian aid to the North-West and South-West regions

2 – We challenge all non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in the two Anglophone regions to call a ceasefire.

Thank you to APLM-SOCADEF for already declaring and renewing a temporary ceasefire. All other non-state armed groups are challenged to declare a ceasefire as well, to protect citizens from COVID-19 and other catastrophic health threats in an active war zone, and:

  • protect human life, health workers, patients, health facilities, and ambulances
    • allow unfettered access of humanitarian aid to the North-West and South-West regions

3 – We challenge the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General, the African Union and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Commonwealth, and La Francophonie to:

  • use all instruments of power at their disposal to urge the Republic of Cameroon to call a COVID-19 ceasefire
    • ensure that Cameroon’s Anglophone conflict is on the agenda of the forthcoming UN Security Council meeting and all UNOCA sessions before the UNSC

Dr Simon Adams, the Executive Director of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, is part of 15 others who signed a declaration calling for a global ceasefire. “Even if the two factions cannot agree on anything, they should agree on the health of the people”, he told DW Radio.

There is an identity-based conflict, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity on international law. He challenged the warring factions to make way for health and humanitarian officials by calling on a ceasefire.
He added that despite the loss of lives the UN has not formally discussed what is happening in Anglophone Cameroon. “I see this as the first step, lets get the guns to drop”

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