For this year’s United Nations World Day of Peace (21 September), thousands of Cameroonians have called for a ceasefire between the military and separatists. People marching in several cities and towns said they were tired of burying civilians trapped in the fighting. But the dispute is not likely to end soon.
Cameroonian artist Salatiel’s song “We Want Peace” blasted through speakers in the Central African nation’s capital, Yaounde, on the 2021 World Peace Day.
In the music, Salatiel says that Cameroon is in urgent need of peace without which the whole country will sink into ruins.
Esther Njomo Omam, director of the non-governmental organization Reach Out Cameroon, organized the rally. She says Cameroonians should give peace a chance.
“It is our collective responsibility to be peace mediators wherever we find ourselves in our various communities, and we are calling on our government to receive the message, the call for peace with an open heart. As we say Please, non-state armed groups accept our call for peace with an open heart. It is time for appeasement,” Om said.
Similar peace marches took place in the western regions of Bua, Bamenda and Kumba, all cities where armed separatist groups are active, and the northern cities of Maroua, Garoua and Ngoundre, close to Cameroon’s border with Nigeria, the site of several incursions. Extremist group Boko Haram.
Omam urged jihadist groups, government troops and separatist groups to declare a ceasefire. He said silencing the guns was the only way to save the lives of civilians, government soldiers, jihadists and separatist fighters from either wounding or dying.
The government said that most of the people who took part in the peace march were women affected by the crisis. Some of them said that they lost family members in distress.
Cameroon’s Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Families, Marie-Therese Abena Ondoa, says the military cannot give up weapons as ordered by the government to protect civilians.
“I am praying that our children, our young brothers, our sisters who are in the bush or are preparing to commit violence, give up the violence, leave the bush because we have all become beggars of peace. So I am for all “We want to do everything that is within our reach so that our beloved country can become a land of peace,” Ondoa said.
Rose Marie Ataka of the Cameroonian Civil Society took part in a peace march in Yaonde. He said the armed conflict in Cameroon would not end until a ceasefire was reached.
“Within five years, we have guns, we have an increase in weapons entering the country and we don’t know who is carrying these weapons. We don’t know the number of people armed, so I guess That it’s better to stop it now, so that by the time we get the guns back, it’ll probably be less if we let it go further,” Ataka said.
The United Nations General Assembly declared the annual observance of International Day of Peace in 1981. The day is dedicated to strengthen the ideals of peace by observing a 24-hour ceasefire and non-violence.