from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – ATTACKS against students, teachers and schools are forcing the education centres to close and pushing vulnerable children further to the margins in Cameroon.
More than 700 000 children have been impacted by school closures due to violence in the North-West and South-West regions.
Disgruntled English-speaking communities are protesting alleged marginalization by the government of predominantly French speakers.
The Norwegian Refugee Council and Education Cannot Wait have called for an end to attacks on education in the Central African country.
“This is among the most complex humanitarian crises in the world today,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of the Education Cannot Wait.
“Children and youth have to flee their homes and schools, are threatened with violence and kidnapping, and being forced into early childhood marriage and recruited into armed groups.”
Sherif called on donors to support and respond to this “forgotten crisis.”
Two out of three schools are closed in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
On November 24, four children and one teacher were killed in an attack in Ekondo Titi in the South-West.
A lockdown imposed by a non-state armed group, from September 15 to October 2, limited access to basic services.
Eight students were kidnapped, and a girl’s fingers were chopped off after she tried to attend school in the North-West.
Five public school principals were also kidnapped, including one who was killed.
“Putting a schoolbag on your back shouldn’t make you a target,” said Jan Egeland Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
“Yet children here risk their lives every day just showing up for school. Cameroon’s education mega-emergency needs international attention, not deadly silence by the outside world.”
French speakers make up 80 percent of Cameroon’s population of 27,4 million people.
– CAJ News