Saturday, June 3, 2023

Cameroonian children protest abuse in separatist struggle

Several hundred children marched in the streets of Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, on June 6, calling for an end to the use of child soldiers in the country’s separatist conflict, as well as other abuses against children stemming from fighting was.

Most of the child protesters were displaced from Cameroon’s western regions due to ongoing violence between rebels and government troops.

Aid and rights groups organized protests on 12 June as part of the United Nations World Day Against Child Labor.

Blessing Allies for Women and Children, a group defending the rights of vulnerable women and children, is one of the participants in the protest.

The group’s coordinator, Bai Frida Abai, said children displaced from conflict zones also suffer abuse.

“There are children in the age group of 5 to 14 years who are engaged in tree plantation activities. It is our collective responsibility to give a second chance in life to these children. These are the children who are already suffering due to the ongoing armed conflicts. They have Have lost parents, they have lost their home, so it is very important for us to look at this issue of child labor and stop it,” Abai said.

File - a mother and her child sit with other families at a camp for internally displaced people in dougie, cameroon, october 24, 2013.

FILE – A mother and her child sit with other families at a camp for internally displaced people in Dougie, Cameroon, October 24, 2013.

The United Nations and the Cameroonian government say that children in the troubled western regions face violence, kidnapping, early marriage and recruitment by armed groups.

Capo Daniele is the self-proclaimed deputy chief of defense of the Ambazonia Defense Forces, one of Cameroon’s rebel groups. He denied claims by the United Nations and the government that separatists were recruiting child soldiers, but acknowledged that they used force to close schools.

“Our code of conduct prohibits the use of child soldiers,” he said. “Whatever weapons we have, we give it to the best trained soldiers and at all times, they are adults. We cannot allow Cameroonian state schools to operate on our territory while we are at war against Cameroonian state As an alternative, we have opened community schools where our forces are in complete control.”

Cameroon’s military said rebels used the seized schools as training grounds for fighters.

Cameroon’s Social Affairs Minister Pauline Irene Nguyen said the army had taken back several schools used by the rebels.

Children protesting on Monday also called for an end to early marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child sex trafficking.

Nguyen commended the children for demonstrating against abuse and asserting their fundamental human rights. He said

Nguyen says she is glad that the children themselves have come out to tell Cameroonians that all children have fundamental human rights. He said that social workers should educate communities that children should be in schools, not on plantations nor forced into prostitution.

He said female genital amputation is a violation of human rights and those who practice it will be severely punished.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2021 that government troops launched a humiliating counterattack on the rebels and their alleged supporters, affecting children and education in the area.

Cameroon’s military denies abuse or targeting of civilians.

The United Nations says Cameroon’s separatist conflict that began in 2017 has deprived more than 700,000 children of education.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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