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Civilian Populations Continue to “pay price of ongoing violence”: Cameroonian Bishop

Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi of Buea Diocese. Credit: Buea Diocese

Civilians in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon have continued to pay the price of violence between security forces and armed groups that has been going on for close to five years, the Catholic Bishop whose Diocese is located within the warring Anglophone regions has told ACI Africa in an interview. 

Cameroon’s English-speaking regions plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.

In the Wednesday, October 27 interview, Bishop Michael Miabesue Bibi of Buea Diocese said the military presence is intimidating and that “everyone is tired of seeing what is happening in our country, tired of hearing the bullets flying.” 

“Since the beginning of the current crisis, the civilian population has continued to pay the price for the reckless actions and shocking violence of the security forces or armed groups,” Bishop Bibi lamented. 

He added, “The insecurity is there. When you don't know who the enemy is, it becomes difficult to contain a situation that is going out of hand.”

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The last time the Cameroonian Bishop decried cases of violence was earlier this month when a six-year-old pupil was killed after a policeman reportedly opened fire on a car the girl was traveling in, in Cameroon’s city of Buea.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa October 15, the day after the incident, the Local Ordinary of Buea Diocese expressed shock and sorrow.

“I witnessed with shock, sorrow, horror and fright, the deformed head on the lifeless body of six- year-old, Enondiale Tchuengia Carolaise, a class one pupil of CUlB Academy of Talents Primary School Molyko, Buea, who was brutally murdered Thursday, October 14, 2021 at about 7:50 a.m.,” Bishop Michael Bibi said.

He added, “The innocent child was shot dead by a gendarme officer opposite the Divine Mercy Co-Cathedral, Molyko, Buea as her mother was accompanying her to school.” 

In the October 27 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Bibi said in reference to the killing of the young girl, “This is not an isolated incident; we see this as a wider problem.”

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He recalled a 2020 incident in Cameroon’s Kumba Diocese where innocent children lost their lives as a result of violence.

“The innocent children killed in Kumba last are still fresh in our lives. We want the reckless killings to stop,” Bishop Bibi who has been at the helm of the Diocese since December 2019 said, making reference to the 24 October 2020 incident.

In August, a seven-year-old pupil at St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School in Cameroon’s Kumbo Diocese was killed by a stray bullet during a crossfire between Cameroonian military and militants near the learning institution, a Catholic Priest told ACI Africa.

These killings, Bishop Bibi told ACI Africa during the October 27 interview, "show how inhuman, how corrupt people have become and how life has lost all value in the eyes of some.”

The Cameroonian Bishop urged the security forces to exercise “greater restraint when conducting security operations that could endanger the lives of innocent civilians.” 

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“We also call on the various armed groups to drop their weapons. Violence has never resolved any conflict. Dialogue is the only solution,” Bishop Bibi told ACI Africa.