Anglophone Crisis: Aid Workers Decry Disregard for International Humanitarian Law

By Kesah Princely & Regis Che, Reporting from Kumba

Some aid workers in Cameroon say belligerents in the Anglophone armed conflict have continued to show utter disregard for International Humanitarian Law.

They decried the behavior recently in Kumba, during this year’s commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day.

The commemorative event on August 19, brought together different organisations such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Coordinating Unit of Associations for Persons with Disabilities (CUAPWDs), Authentic Memorial Empowerment Foundation (AMEF), CARITAS, among others.

International Humanitarian Law protects people who are not engaged in hostilities, during armed conflicts. Such persons must not be targeted nor victimized.

However, in Anglophone Cameroon, there are growing concerns as to what some have qualified as neglect for the laws guiding warfare.

Participants, during the event in Kumba, shared their experiences.

Some recounted how they were abducted and tortured several times, others said they had sometimes been forced to give items that were meant for vulnerable persons.

In some cases, the experiences have been even more severe. Speaking to the press, OCHA’s National Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Divine Arrey Etta regretted the fact that about 5 aid workers have been killed as a result of ongoing hostilities in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.

He equally revealed that UNOCHA and its partners have been doing a lot of coordination work to ensure aid is evenly served to the affected populations.

“We do not have enough resources to reach out to everyone because their needs are quite enormous,” Arrey intimated. 

“That is why we are obliged to do targeted, and not blanket assistance,” he added.

The plight of persons with disabilities (PWDs) was also discussed at the World Humanitarian Day event in Kumba.

Speaking on behalf of the Coordinating Unit of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (CUAPWD)-South West, the organisation’s Projects Coordinator revealed that the ongoing armed conflict has left lamentable effects on persons with disabilities.

Agbor Ayuk Jr. emphasized the need for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian projects — from conception, execution, to evaluation.

“Many organisations have often imagined the needs of persons with disabilities instead of consulting them to assess their needs,” he decried.

Meantime, the commemoration of World Humanitarian Day was also an opportunity for UNOCHA to school aid workers on the need to respect international humanitarian principles such as impartiality, neutrality and independence.

The day closed with a loud outcry for the belligerents in the Anglophone crisis to respect International Humanitarian Law, applicable in times of  armed conflicts. 

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