Cameroon’s National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR) said Wednesday that at least 12 armed separatists fighting to create a nation in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest had dropped their weapons.
The committee made the revelation while holding a working session with officials of the United Nations system in Cameroon in the capital, Yaounde.
The separatists who have dropped their weapons are receiving psychological and religious help in the Northwest, according to officials.
“One of the biggest challenges is the change of mindset. War starts in the mind and war has to end in the mind. We are talking to the clergy, the civil society, traditional rulers, political leaders and the media. We have some people who have laid down their arms and that is a concrete achievement,” Fonju Bernard, NCDDR coordinator for the Southwest, told reporters.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya in an address to the nation in December warned separatists that they would be “neutralized” if they did not drop their weapons and “follow the right track”.
He said he created NCDDR to disarm and reintegrate ex-combatants of armed groups in the regions in order to avoid the use of “extreme measures”.
In spite of the measure, fighting between government forces and armed separatist groups is escalating in the Anglophone zone.
According to the United Nations, more than 430,000 Cameroonians have been displaced internally and at least 30,000 others have fled to neighboring Nigeria. Enditem