Fresh wave of violence sparks mass exodus in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions

The fresh wave of violence that has hit the North West and South West Regions has sparked a mass exodus…

The fresh wave of violence that has hit the North West and South West Regions has sparked a mass exodus of the population to other regions for safety.

Reports from these regions say the parks are crowded with passengers since Tuesday as residents are fleeing the violence to safer cities like Douala, Yaounde and Bafoussam.

At the Mile 17 motor park on Wednesday afternoon, passengers cued infront of the various travel agencies  as they were anxious to leave the city.

“I am taking my family to Douala for the moment until I feel it is safe for us to return(to Buea) before I can,” Valery Epie, a resident in Buea tells journalducameroun.com on board a bus at the Mile 17 motor park.

The exchange of gunshots between the Cameroon army and separatist fighters on Tuesday in Mile 16, a neighbourhood situated at the entrance to Buea has given many persons reason to leave the city as civilians increasingly become trapped in the crossfire-at least two were reported dead and several others seriously injured the same day.

According to the UN, over 161.000 persons have been internally displaced as a result of the crisis-that number could soar in the days ahead.

The anticipations of  clashes between the army and the separatist fighters on October 1-a day considered by the latter as the independence of the former British Southetrn Cameroons which they are trying to restore- has equally provoked the mass exodus.

“With October 1, fast approaching, we don’t feel secure and we don’t want to witness a repeat of last year’s events,”Mr. Epie adds.

Several international organisations criticised the Cameroon army for using force to quench a peaceful protest on October 1 last year which led to several persons dead and many arrested. This seemed to be the turning point in the crisis with armed groups popping up.

A year on, the separatists have issued a travel ban in and out of the Anglophone regions to take effect on September 25. The population in these regions is not taking this threat lightly.

“The situation is getting worse with the curfew in Bamenda and the gunshots on a daily basis. We all know what can happen on October 1,”a civil servant(identity witheld) who has since taken refuge in Yaounde after his house was burnt down by suspected separatists in Bali, North West Region of Cameroon said.

“I am planning to return only after October,” he adds.

The migration of persons from these regions has forced transporters to double the transport fares though the passengers are not worried-all they care is to get to safe destinations.

However, others chose to remain optimistic and have stayed back hoping the situation will get better in the days ahead.

“It will be very difficult for me to leave Bamenda and relocate my business to another city,”Buzzie Neolie, a resident in Bamenda tells journalducameroun.com.

She has decided to adjust her schedule to the recent curfew imposed on the region by the Governor of the North West Region, Adolphe Lele LAfrique.

Like Neolie, many are looking up to the skies for dialogue to take place so a lasting solution could be reached.