The United States has warned that the separatist crisis in Cameroon could get much worse.
The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa Tibor Nagy said the situation in the Central African nation is worsening by the day and “worrying me greatly.”
The United States calls for dialogue between Cameroon’s government and the Anglophone separatists who sprang up from peaceful protests two years ago against the alleged marginalization of English-speakers in the largely Francophone country, Nagy said in a conference call with journalists.
Fighting between the separatists and Cameroon’s security forces has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing in recent months, with hundreds of people killed in the English-speaking North West and South West regions.
Nagy said he is reminded of neighboring Nigeria, where the government’s “brutal response” to extremism led to an increase in the membership in Boko Haram.
That decade-old Islamic insurgency continues to rage in northeastern Nigeria and has spilled over into neighboring countries.
The U.S. diplomat suggested “some form of decentralization” in Cameroon as mentioned in a proposed constitution for the country.
The U.S. provides training and other support to the country’s military.
As Cameroon’s President Paul Biya was sworn into his seventh term in office last month, he urged the separatists he calls “terrorists” to drop their guns and be forgiven or prepare to be killed.
Military raids began shortly afterward.