Cameroon (MNN) — Regional violence in Cameroon has stretched on for 18 months, and the United Nations is saying ‘enough’. UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein recently demanded the Cameroonian government launch an independent investigation on human rights abuses by State forces.
English-speakers in western Cameroon are vying for autonomy, since they feel underrepresented by the government. But when separatists started protesting, French-speaking State forces lashed out with brutal force.
Since then, people in Anglophone regions have suffered attacks, random shootings, and rape. Soldiers have burned down entire villages — sometimes with family members still inside their homes.
Efi Tembon, the Executive Director of the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL), a partner of Wycliffe Associates, shares, “More than 2,000 people have been killed so far since this started, and more than 170 villages have been burned, and more than 200,000 people are displaced, and more than 100,000 people are refugees in Nigeria.”
Along with condemnation from the UN, Tembon is hoping for United States involvement and enforced accountability for the Cameroonian government.
“We started a campaign here with the US Congress. The US government has been supporting the Cameroon military, providing training, providing material support. This provision was for the fight against Boko Haram. It was well-intentioned, but you know with good intentions, sometimes they have unintended consequences. These are being used now to fight against the…people,” says Tembon.
“We think the US has leverage, has some influence to be able to help…. We are calling on others to write to their senators, to write to their representatives to be aware of this situation so something can be done [and] mediation can take place so peace can return.”
We previously shared how violence in western Cameroon is also causing problems for CABTAL’s Bible translators. The impact on their ministry is still growing.
“In the area where these atrocities are going on, we have 38 language projects where we are doing translation or helping communities in the area of Scripture impact. All of them have been affected right now and more than 400 translation personnel in these communities are affected — many of them [are] displaced, many [are] hiding in the bushes, and in some communities, translation has stopped.”
Tembon says churches have also been caught in the crosshairs. “Some pastors have been killed and churches have been taken over by the military, [who is] using some churches as a military base.”
In some villages, CABTAL lost touch with Bible translators who fled. They are still trying to make contact and help, especially because every day in the bush presents new risks.
“There are more people dying in the bushes than [who] are even being killed by bullets because they have no access to medical care. They are sick with malaria,…children are dying of malnutrition, [and] they don’t have any food.”
What’s worse “Some of them have nothing to go back to,” Tembon says. “Their homes have been burned, family members killed, they are living in bushes without food, no clothing, no basic needs, [and] exposed to all kinds of danger.”
Currently, Wycliffe Associates is raising funds to provide emergency protection for displaced Bible translators from western Cameroon and replace translation equipment. Even though the raging violence is a severe challenge, Wycliffe Associates, CABTAL, and their local volunteers are determined to get God’s Word to those who need Christ’s truth and hope — especially now.
If you would like to support this effort with Wycliffe Associates, click here!
Tembon says Cameroonians and our Christian brothers and sisters urgently need your prayer support as well.
“Some have turned to God, praying to God; others have turned to African Traditional Religion and [are] looking…to find a solution, to find help. [Pray] that this will cause people to turn to the Lord and cry out to Him.
“Pray for the Church in Cameroon. God knows what is going on. All of this doesn’t take Him by surprise. [Pray] that we would be able to come back to the Lord and repent as a Church in that country.”
“Also, pray that the root causes of this problem will be solved. These people need freedom…. They have been like second-class citizens for 57 years and it reached a breaking point where it just boiled out of control. [Pray] that that root problem will be solved so that we will not see a recurrence of violence.”