Devastated Families In Cameroon Grieve For Children Slaughtered In School Massacre

Seven children dead and 12 injured in “dastardly act of wickedness.” This is how the Prime Minister of Cameroon, Joseph Dion Ngute, described the school massacre in Kumba, Cameroon, reports CNN. Joseph tweeted on Sunday saying, “I bow before the memory of these innocent kids. I urge all Cameroonians to firmly stand against these acts of atrocity. The Republic will not bow to terror.”

Attackers stormed the school, armed with guns and machetes, slaying innocent children and destroying families forever. This region has been embroiled in violence between Anglophone separatists and government forces for approximately three years, CGTN Africa reports. President of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat stated, “there are no words for the grief nor condemnation strong enough to express my horror at the brutal attack which targeted primary school children… while they were sitting learning, in their classroom.” A student at the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy said, “they started shooting randomly around the school campus before they left. When they had gone, we got up to discover dead bodies and some injured lying on the ground,” according to CNN.

Parts of Cameroon have been dealing with unrest since Anglophone groups pushed for their independence in 2016, reports the BBC. The group say the French-speaking majority are marginalizing the English-speaking minority, explaining their reasoning for threats of violence over the last few years. The conflict originated from protests about the increasing use of French in courts and school’s in English-speaking heartlands of Cameroon. These protests then became violent, killing thousands. The clash between some English-speaking civilians and French-speaking President Paul Biya has meant that many citizens have been displaced, as separatists and government forces clash.

The United Nations estimated in February of this year, that more than 670,000 people have been displaced in the affected areas, with approximately 60,000 Cameroonians having fled escalating violence in neighbouring Nigeria. In the same month of February, the UN also reported that at least 14 children were among 22 people killed by armed men in Ntumbo, a village in northwest Cameroon.

Additionally, from a 2019 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, it was estimated that there are 855,000 children out of school in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest regions. These are the regions where government forces and the separatist have been at conflict with each other for close to four years. Speaking about this most recent tragedy, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “it is another disturbing reminder of the conflicts heavy toll on civilians, including children, many of whom have been deprived of their rights to education.”

Shocking videos are circulating on social media filmed by local journalists. The videos show adults running from the school with children in their arms, surrounded by inconsolable onlookers, The Guardian reports. A picture which was later verified by Reuters, shows a pile of dried blood inside one of the classrooms near scattered pairs of flip-flops. The massacre is unimaginable, and the lives of the children murdered will be mourned by many. It is a reminder of the torment and ongoing violence plaguing Cameroon. No group has yet claimed this wicked act of violence.

Four days since the incident, locals are remembering the seven young lives lost and continue to berate the attackers. Shengang Richard, the president of the Association of Family Welfare and Development, an NGO in Kumba, said, “there is no condemnation strong enough to articulate our full sorrow at the brutal attack and killing of innocent children struggling to pursue education which is their right.” Grief in Kumba will linger. Certainly for now and most likely – forever. With no peace in sight for Cameroon, it is a worrying thought that school massacres will continue to happen, and the lives of innocent civilians will continue to be slaughtered.

Katie Clarke

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