Resurgence by terrorist group Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North region appears not to have been mitigated as suggested by the government.
A report by Amnesty International, however, proves otherwise. According to the human rights organization, 275 people have been killed by the terror group so far this year with 225 of the casualties being civilians.
The reported crimes under international law, besides the gruesome murders, also included looting, destruction of property, kidnappings and mutilations. With authorities reportedly not doing enough to quell these attacks, the locals feel helpless.
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“The people we met in Cameroon’s Far North are living in terror. Many of them have already witnessed Boko Haram attacks and lost family members or friends. They no longer ask whether there will be further attacks but when they will take place – they feel completely abandoned by the authorities,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa said.
“People are living in total deprivation and will continue to suffer Boko Haram’s murderous assaults or leave their communities if nothing is done. The Cameroonian authorities must urgently increase the protection for the areas affected, in accordance with respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.”
Among the instances of violations cited by the human rights group was the killing of an old blind man and child and three women having their ears cut off in the village of Gakara.
According to a witness: “Members of Boko Haram found a nine or ten-year-old boy with two older persons: his grandmother and an old blind man. They tried to drag him away but the child clutched his grandmother with all his might, crying and saying that he did not want to leave. So Boko Haram killed the boy and the old man.”
One of the three women who had her ear cut off by members of the group revealed she was told it was punishment for not capturing their husbands.
“The attackers told us they had cut an ear off of each of us because they had been unable to capture our husbands, and that next time they would kill us.”
The husband of another victim recounted how his wife’s ear was mutilated.
“They stopped one of my wives and told her to go with them. When she refused, they threatened to cut her throat. She said she’d rather that than go with them,” he said. “One of the men then suggested they slit her throat, one that they cut her hand off and the third that they cut her ear off. So that’s what they did and they left her like that…”
At the start of the year, President Paul Biya claimed they had successfully repelled the terrorist organization outside the country’s borders, adding that they were now “a residual threat.” Accounts by victims and witnesses who, according to Amnesty International feel abandoned are, however, the complete opposite.
“The people of the Far North must not be abandoned. The Cameroon authorities must ensure their protection and the right of everyone to a sufficient standard of living,” Daoud said.
The Islamic extremist group, which is known for its brutal acts of terror including abductions, mass murder, slavery, and suicide bombings, has waged several years of war in the areas around the Lake Chad basin in northeast Nigeria.
The terror activities of the group have repeatedly spilled over into at least three bordering countries, including Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.