Map of Northwest and Southwest regions, Cameroon
Northwest and Southwest regions, Cameroon

GENEVA - The U.N. human rights office is calling for an independent, impartial and thorough investigation into the massacre of 23 people in a village in Cameroon’s Northwest Anglophone region on February 14.

More information has emerged since this shocking attack occurred.  U.N. human rights monitors on the ground report 15 children, nine under the age of five were killed.  They say two pregnant women also were among the victims.  One has since died of her injuries in hospital.

U.N. human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, says the facts are still sketchy.  But he tells VOA witnesses say 40 armed men and members of the security and defense forces attacked the village.

“The authorities claim there was gunfire coming out of the village towards them — towards the defense forces and gendarmes," he said. "Our understanding is that two houses in particular were targeted.  But the upshot of that — the number of children killed, and pregnant women is really horrifying.”  

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and clashes between security and defense forces and armed separatist groups have escalated since 2016.  That was when a separatist insurgency erupted in the minority English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon against the dominant French-speaking government.

In the aftermath of the massacre, the Cameroonian government has announced it would mount an investigation into the killings and would make the findings public.  The U.N. human rights office urges the authorities to ensure the independence and impartiality of the investigation and to hold those responsible to account.  

In the meantime, the United Nations reports 2.3 million people in Cameroon urgently need food, shelter, non-food items, and protection because of the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest.  It adds the majority of those in need remain within these two regions.  

U.N. aid agencies are urgently appealing for $317 million so they can carry out their life-saving mission this year.