Clashes between farmers, ranchers and fishermen have escalated due to water shortages on Cameroon’s northern border with Chad. Cameroonian officials said villages and markets were set on fire on Wednesday and fierce clashes forced thousands of people to flee to neighboring Chad.
A messenger sent by traditional rulers said there would be no progress and communities would be impoverished if at least 120 people in Kousseri, Cameroon’s northern border with Chad, were not at peace. He says armed conflicts only bring hunger and suffering.
The message has been broadcast several times on Cameroon’s CRTV, government-controlled radio and television in Massa, Musgum and Arabic Choua. The Massa, Musgum and Arab Choua communities live in the Logone and Chari subdivisions where Kousseri is located.
Logone and Chari government officials said the news of the peace began on Wednesday after a water dispute between farmers, ranchers and fishermen escalated into a violent conflict.
On Wednesday night, community leaders said several villages had been set on fire, farms destroyed and part of the largest market in Kuseri had been set on fire. They said more than 40 people had been killed, 70 wounded and several thousand civilians had crossed into Chad for safety. Mahamat Abba is the sultan, the traditional ruler of Kuseri.
Abba said that as head of Kousseri, he is reminding people of all communities in the shopping town that they should seek peace, solidarity and solidarity as long as they live together. He said Musgum, Arab Choua and Massa reminded their brothers and sisters that peace is priceless. He says if there is a war or an armed conflict, a city or a community cannot develop.
Abba spoke to VOA through Kusser’s WhatsApp messaging app.
Earlier this week, the Cameroonian government said clashes had broken out between herders and fishermen over water in the towns of Logone and Chari. Arab Choua ranchers are accusing Muscovite fishermen of digging holes that killed their cows, sheep and donkeys. Mousgoum fishermen dig holes to save water and hunt. Muscovite fishermen also accuse Arab Choua herders of allowing their cattle to destroy areas set aside for fishing only.
The government said that when the fighting resumed, Massa farmers accused Arab Choua farmers of allowing their cattle to destroy their plantations. Mass farmers joined Musgum fishermen to attack Arab Choua ranchers. Arab Choua is fighting it.
Midjiyawa Bakari is the governor of the Far North region of Cameroon, where Logone and Chari are located. He said he led a delegation of high-ranking government officials and the military sent to Logone and Charlie by Cameroonian President Paul Biya on Wednesday night.
According to him, Biya asked the delegation to ensure a return to peace between the communities of Massa, Musgum and Arab Choua, which are fighting, killing each other and destroying property. Bakari spoke from Kousseri via the WhatsApp messaging app.
Bakari said Biya wants rival teams to bury their differences and drop their weapons immediately for peace. Bakari said the conflict could upset many football fans who travel from neighboring Chad, Sudan, Niger and Libya to Cameroon via Logone and Chari for the African Football Nations Cup, which starts on January 9. He said Cameroon could not damage its reputation. At a time when the African continent is turning its attention to the central African country for AFCON.
Bakari said Cameroonians need to learn to live together and that communities should respect and value their linguistic, cultural and religious differences.
Cameroon says desertification is forcing farmers, fishermen and ranchers to move to places where they can find food and water. Many farmers, ranchers and fishermen settle along the Logone River in the Logone and Chari subdivisions to survive, leading to regular clashes.