An internally displaced woman poses at a window in Cameroon An internally displaced woman poses at a window in Cameroon 

Catholic Bishops urge Cameroon to start talks with separatists

Catholic Bishops from around the world sign an open letter to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, asking him to begin peace negotiations with the separatist movement in that country.

By Fr. John Waters

In response to an attack on the village of Ntumbo, in the north-east of the country, 16 bishops from around the world have drafted an open letter to Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon.

Civilians suffering

The open letter by the Bishops stresses that they are not taking political sides in the disagreements.

“We are motivated by our concern about the suffering of unarmed civilians, and the stability and prosperity of Cameroon,” the Bishops write.

The letter also notes that at least 2,000 people have died as a result of the conflict.

“Each of these lives is precious and we mourn their suffering and wish to prevent more loss of life and innocence.”

The Bishops also applaud previous efforts to negotiate a settlement, and note that “if all parties treat each other as they wish to be treated, a solution is possible.”

Facts about the attack

At least 22 people were killed in the attack on Friday, 14 February, including 14 children and at least one pregnant woman.

Houses were also burned down during the attack.

No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Larger context

A political crisis has been unfolding in Cameroon since 2017.

English speakers in the country, where the official language is French, have complained that they are treated as second-class citizens and are denied basic rights.

A number of separatist militias have been fighting with government forces as a result of the situation.

The full text of the letter can be downloaded here. 

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17 February 2020, 17:00