News / Africa

Cameroon Concerned About Boko Haram Violence

Map of Cameroon
Map of Cameroon
— Kidnappings, an influx of refugees and an increase fighting and criminal acts in Cameroon's border communities have raised concerns about Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgency.

Cameroonians in northern communities that share a boundary with Nigeria's Borno state, the base of the Boko Haram militant group, are worried the violent group has extended its reach into Cameroon.

Nurse Mary Nana, 31, told VOA she was preparing to leave the border locality of Fotokol after four Cameroonians were killed and some 3,000 Nigerians crossed over to her area following last week's attack on a market by suspected Boko Haram members. 

"I am very much aware of the fact that they [Boko Haram] are here so the insecurity is just too much," she said. "I am very very afraid.  I think if there is a possibility of leaving even this day as I am talking [I would be happy]. The insecurity is just too much."

Secondary school teacher John Che says insecurity has increased in North Cameroon where he works because of the belief that Boko Haram insurgents are in the area.

 "The security situation of this region is questionable," Che said. "We don't know who is who because the Boko Haram guys are at our door steps."

Fonka Awah Augustine, the governor of Far North Cameroon, says the cause of the public's anxiety is apparent.

"Our problems come from our neighbors," he noted. " Each time the Nigerian army attacks, Boko Haram becomes destabilized and they are looking for a safe ground to settle, and each time Boko Haram equally attacks either the army or a particular community they cause the flow of the population in their thousands into our region. [far north Cameroon]."

Augustine says he banned movements from dusk to dawn on motorcycles, which are a widely used means of transportation in North Cameroon,  because Boko Haram members have been using them to cause havoc.

 "All the kidnappings and the attacks were done with the complicity of motorcycles," he said. "So we feel that motorcycles are really becoming a source of trouble and they are being used as an instrument to cause disorder and trouble in this region."

Saibou Issa, a lecturer at the University of Maroua, told VOA that concerns over public safety have stagnated economic activity between Cameroon and Nigeria.

"There are people who are killed, there is widespread suspicion, there is fear, there is more and more economic starvation, there is no more economic interaction between Nigeria and Cameroon through Maiduguri, Bama and so on and so forth," Issa said.

Rene Emmanuel Sadi, Cameroon's Minister of Territorial Administration, has been visiting border localities to advice the people on what to do in the face of the threats.  He said collaboration with the Cameroonian military is vital.

"This Boko Haram thing is very serious and so I came to sensitize, to educate everybody and to tell them that we really need their contribution," he explained. "They should really get involved in this search, in this battle in this combat. It is then that we will succeed in overcoming the challenge before us, that is Boko Haram."

Cameroon is also suffering as a result of the conflict in the Central Africa Republic.  Seleka rebels have attacked the east of the country nine times since the conflict started.

They reportedly killed Cameroonian soldiers and civilians in all of the attacks.  Last week, the Cameroonian government announced it had freed 18 cattle ranchers kidnapped by Seleka rebels.

Cameroon is also under threat from armed groups said to come into the country from Sudan through Chad to attack national parks.  Three hundred elephants have been reported slaughtered and their tusks sold in Asian countries.

Cameroon has been calling on all its citizens to cooperate with the military and administrative authorities by reporting all suspected people and strangers in their regions.

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