At the request of the parties, Switzerland has emerged as a mediator in the crisis which has hit Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the North-West and South-West for almost three years now. The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) made the announcement on Thursday, after “a second preparatory meeting with various Cameroonian opposition groups took place in Switzerland between 25 and 27 June 2019”.
In a statement, the FDFA stated that it will be working in close collaboration with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Center), to find a “peaceful, lasting negotiated solution to the crisis in north-west aand south-western Cameroon”.
The FDFA is concerned about the continuing violence in the north-western and south-western regions of Cameroon, which is taking a heavy toll on the civilian population. Switzerland has long been committed, both at bilateral and multilateral level, to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis and to promoting respect for human rights in Cameroon. Switzerland is also committed to providing humanitarian aid to the affected local population and has supported Cameroon in dealing with multilingualism.
Facilitation is an instrument of Switzerland’s traditional good offices. In this role, Switzerland can establish contacts and provide communication channels. Switzerland’s good offices are open to all concerned parties who wish to participate in facilitation processes. Switzerland adheres to the principles of strict neutrality and discretion. In order not to jeopardise the process, the FDFA does not comment on the content of ongoing mediation efforts.
What started as peaceful protests in the English-speaking regions of the Central African nation in 2016, degenerated into an armed conflict between the Cameroon military and various armed groups demanding for an separate state called “Ambazonia”.
According to the UN, atleast 436,000 people have been internally displaced by the on-going crisis in Anglophone Cameroon, while more than 30,000 have fled to neighbouring Nigeria since September last year.