Thousands of Cameroonian youths have held what they describe as a patriotic march in support of their military fighting against the Boko Haram insurgency in the north of the Central African state. The march was organized by several journalists who have been reporting on the war on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria.
The youths marched through the streets of Cameroon's capital, Yaounde, carrying high the flags of Cameroon and Chad; the two countries that have deployed troops to join the Nigerian army in fighting Boko Haram. Journalist Guibal Gatama of Cameroon's L'oeil de Sahel newspaper, main organizer of the event, told VOA that the patriotic march was a sign of solidarity for the millions of people suffering as a result of Boko Haram terrorism.
He says it is very important for Cameroonians to come out as a sign of solidarity for the 150,000 internally displaced people, for the 200,000 Nigerian refugees and the 170 schools that have been closed. He says he is optimistic that the military will be galvanized and that he is sure Boko Haram has gotten the message that the people are united against them.
Journalist Ndi Eugene Ndi says the solidarity march was also to discourage Cameroonian youths from joining the terrorist group.
"I came out to show solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the north [of Cameroon] who are suffering from the onslaughts of the Boko Haram insurgents," he said. "I came out also to show to the military that we are one, we are together. We may not have guns to join them in the north but they should know that we have them at heart, we are praying for them, we are supporting them. I am convinced that coming out like this, they will be galvanized."
Many youth associations from the 10 regions of Cameroon sent representatives to the event. Buma Yvonne, who lost his younger brother in the war, says the march showed how much Cameroonians stand by those who are sacrificing their lives to defend the nation from Boko Haram.
"You never know the importance of peace until it is disturbed, so seeing our children, our brothers, our parents giving their lives up there [in northern Cameroon], giving their lives for our sake, it is important, very very important to come out to show our support for them," said Buma Yvonne.
Cameroon has lost about 200 of its soldiers since the country's president, Paul Biya, declared war on the Nigerian terrorist group last year.