Cameroon’s English-Speaking Areas Becoming Deserted
KUMBO, CAMEROON —
Towns and villages in Cameroon’s restive Anglophone regions are being deserted as battles rage between separatists and the country’s military. The fighting intensified after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s message in which he insisted that his military would neutralize separatists who refuse to lay down their arms.
A senior Cameroon military official, who did not wish to be named, warns in a report that visiting the mostly deserted northwestern town of Kumbo he will need military protection.
He says separatist fighters have been launching heavy attacks in the area and may be among the few people left on the streets.
On a ride through the streets of Kumbo, under military protection, it’s clear that most houses, markets and public places are abandoned while some homes and schools have been torched.
But Kumbo resident Mbiybe Tatah says that many locals are fleeing because they are afraid – not of separatists but of the military. They accuse Cameroon troops of burning their houses and shops in retaliation for failing to inform on separatist fighters hiding in their villages, he says.