YAOUNDE - Cameroon officials say Boko Haram attacks have led to the closure of at least 130 schools near its northern border with Nigeria. Most students have left the area for safer places in the country’s interior.
Cameroon education officials say violent raids and kidnappings by the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram are taking their toll.
Monouna Fotso with the Ministry of Secondary Education said regular cross-border attacks have virtually halted academic activity along Cameroon’s 500 kilometer boundary with Nigeria's Borno state, the stronghold of the militant group. Schools are a favorite target of Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sin.
"The diagnosis is going on if there are some which are destroyed or occupied because some of the schools were temporarily occupied. I am telling you we are preoccupied, very preoccupied by this situation. It is the whole government, it is not only the Ministry of Secondary Education, that is preoccupied," said Fotso.
Fotso said due to the insecurity, authorities have advised students and teachers to relocate.
"If there are some localities where the situation is so bad, at the level of the government, we will relocate some schools. At that moment also, we will bring the staff and students to new sites. The objective of this Boko Haram is to traumatize our citizens," Fotso said.
The border areas which have been hardest hit are Amchide, Fotocol, Kolofata and Kiti Matari. Ashigashia reported 30 percent of their schools had to close two months ago, when Boko Haram occupied the town for three weeks before being dislodged by the Cameroon military.
Despite dispatching troops and cooperating with the Nigerian government, Cameroon has increasingly become both a staging ground and a casualty of Boko Haram’s five-year violent campaign to create a Caliphate in northern Nigeria.
The country is also struggling with hundreds of thousands of refugees from Nigeria and its other destabilized neighbor, the Central African Republic.
Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization Rene Emmanuel Sadi told Cameroon’s National Assembly that the Boko Haram threat is choking life in the country.
He said Cameroon is suffering the collateral effects of a conflict that does not directly concern it and that every day Cameroonians living along the border with Nigeria are subjected to Boko Haram atrocities, including assault, rape and murder.