Catholic Charity Launches Peace Initiative for Youth in Cameroon

Credit: ACN

Catholic charity and Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International has launched a peace education program in the Diocese of Mamfe to promote a culture of non-violence among young people in the Cameroonian Diocese.

In a Wednesday, July 20 report, ACN notes that the Central African nation of Cameroon has, in recent years, witnessed outbreaks of violence that forced many youths to join militant groups, and left many children traumatized.

“Most schools in the region have been closed for several years and children are often left to their own devices, and several teenagers have joined the armed rebel groups. In the long run, the failure of school education will result in more people being plunged into poverty,” ACN has reported.

The Pontifical foundation, which reaches out to the people of God in countries experiencing extremism says that faced with the violence scenario, especially in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, the Church has launched an initiative that seeks “to provide some answers to the longings of local youth.”

“The Diocese of Mamfe, situated precisely in the Anglophone region, has introduced a peace education program as part of its concern for young people. The aim of this initiative, which is being supported directly by the ACN Foundation, is to promote a culture of non-violence,” the Catholic charity says in the July 20 report.


ACN further reports that the program, which has been running for a year, involves all 27 Parishes of the Cameroonian Diocese and has mobilized young people for weekend activities, which also include moments of prayer.

Fr. Roland Arrey, pastor and leader of the youth support team, shared with ACN the challenges of evangelizing in a country experiencing violence.

“We must never forget that in an environment marked by violence and conflict, any form of effective evangelization is impossible,” Fr. Arrey has been quoted as saying, adding, “Differences of opinion may well be inevitable, but violence is not inevitable. If we want to avoid an incessant spiral of violence, we must strive to promote peace and tolerance and not incite hatred and mistrust.”

In the report, the Priest explains that the program focuses on Jesus Christ, “the Prince of Peace, who longs to bring peace to our troubled and violent world.”

“We are very excited about this project and very motivated, as it will especially benefit the youth and also all of our parish communities. We are very grateful to ACN and all our benefactors,” he says.

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ACN goes on to explain that courses in the program are complemented by radio broadcasts that can reach even the most distant villages.

Violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone region has intensified since 2016 and has degenerated from protest marches to clashes.

Today, there is an armed conflict opposing separatists from the Anglophone provinces to the central power of Cameroon, which has already caused thousands of deaths and forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes.

The issue of violence generated by the independence conflict is not, however, the only serious security problem facing the Central African country. ACN reports that in Northern Cameroon, there have also been frequent attacks by terrorists from the Boko Haram group.

A Priest in the area, who ACN says cannot be identified for security reasons, described to the foundation the fear that has gripped the local people, who fear not only for their lives, but also for their possessions and property. “The people are full of fear and anxiety,” he said.


The Priest also told ACN that the attacks by Boko Haram Islamists have already affected five administrative areas and that some villages have been practically left without inhabitants. “They are almost empty,” said the priest.

He noted that militants in the embattled region have changed their tactics and are now ambushing their victims.

“In the past, they came to the villages shouting, which could allow people to escape,” the Priest said, and added, “Now, they have been coming discreetly, taking advantage of the full moon, surprising people who are sleeping. They kill the fathers of the families and the teenagers, especially the boys, and they loot the properties and destroy everything they cannot take.”

Apart from the educational peace programs, ACN has also approved the construction of a refugee camp for victims of Boko Haram in Cameroon.

“As a sign of ACN’s closeness to the Church in Cameroon, and in addition to the diocese of Mamfe's initiative aimed at young people, a project to support a refugee camp for victims of Boko Haram was also recently approved. This is a camp located in Minawao, in the Diocese of Mourua-Mokolo in the far north of the country,” ACN reports.

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Additionally, the foundation has also supported the printing of two thousand copies of the Bible in the Mafa language, which is spoken in 12 Parishes of the Cameroonian Diocese.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.