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Cameroonian United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. Cameroonian United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.  (AFP or licensors)

Religious leaders in Cameroon issue joint call for peace

A group of Catholic, Muslim, and Protestant leaders welcome new peace talks, and call on all believers to pray for an end to violence in the country.

By Joseph Tulloch

Religious leaders in two areas of Cameroon have welcomed the Canadian government’s recent announcement of peace talks in the country.

On Friday, Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly had released a statement saying that some of the separatist factions in the war-torn Northwestern and Southwestern areas of Cameroon had agreed to negotiate. 

Now, religious leaders – each representing a different faith tradition – have released a statement thanking God for the announcement, calling for an end to violence, and inviting believers of all religions to pray for peace.

A major step toward peace

The religious leaders – the heads of the Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches, as well as two major mosques in the conflict-ridden areas – welcomed the announcement of talks as “a major step towards the search for true, sustainable, and lasting peace in these two Regions.”   

“This has been our prayer,” they continued, “and we are thankful to God that a hopeful corridor is beginning to open for inclusive dialogue.”

They urged participants in the talks to “be honest, God-fearing, sincere, humble, and patriotic throughout the entire announced peace process and let the spirit of God assist them in their deliberations.”

Appeal for international aid and prayer

As well as encouraging local participants in the peace talks, the religious leaders appealed for the international community to “assist without bias or prejudice.” Addressing “members of the international community, especially the African Union, the European countries that colonized Africa, and the United Nations”, they urged them to “show an indefectible interest in this crisis.”

They then went on to call on religious believers, calling on “everyone who believes that the Almighty God of peace can resolve any and every conflict amongst humankind, to join us in prayer that the Devil and his agents (both human and otherwise), may not destroy this peace process.”

A forgotten conflict

The conflict in Cameroon, which broke out in 2017, is concentrated in the English-speaking regions of the country. Many English speakers perceive themselves to be marginalized by the Francophone majority, and English-language militias have been fighting government forces in an attempt to form a breakaway state, Ambazonia.

The Canadian government has said that nearly 800,000 people have been displaced as a result of the crisis, and 600,000 children do not have full access to education. The International Crisis Group, meanwhile, estimates that at least 6,000 have been killed.

25 January 2023, 11:03