Children should be allowed to go to school and study freely in Cameroon’s two restive English-speaking regions of Northwest and Southwest, Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, Francois Lounceny Fall said Wednesday.
“I want to seize this opportunity to address an appeal to all the people in the Southwest and Northwest to allow the children to go back to school. In closing the schools, they are condemning the children and their future. The future of the country is the children.” Fall said after meeting with Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute in the capital, Yaounde.
“We know that efforts are in progress to resolve the problem. The United Nations is for the unity and integrity of Cameroon,” he added.
The new school year began in Cameroon on Monday but over 90 percent of schools in the crisis-hit regions have remained closed since then, according to government officials.
The troubled regions are observing a three-week lockdown imposed by armed separatists, who have warned that they will not allow any school to be opened unless their leader, Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine others given life jail sentences by a military tribunal are freed.
Insecurity in the two regions has left more than 4,400 schools forcibly closed, affecting more than 600,000 children, according to a UNICEF report released last month.
Separatists in the regions have been clashing with government forces since 2017 in a bid to create and independent nation they call “Ambazonia.” Enditem