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Monday, November 28, 2022

Conflict, poor funding slow reconstruction in Cameroon

Conflict, poor funding slow reconstruction in Cameroon

Cameroon is seeking international help to rebuild the western regions destroyed by five years of conflict with separatists. The plan to build roads, schools, hospitals, markets and houses was launched in 2020 but has been stalled due to ongoing fighting and budget constraints.

The government said Thursday that the reconstruction plan has raised only $18.2 million out of the $150 million needed to rebuild the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions. Officials in the predominantly French-speaking country also say that intense fighting between separatists and soldiers is making it very difficult to rebuild infrastructure in cities and villages where relative peace has returned.

Paul Tasong, the coordinator of the Presidential Plan for the Reconstruction and Development of Cameroon’s North-West and South-West Regions, noted what countries such as Japan have allocated in terms of the Cameroonian franc.

“Today only Japan supports us with 1.5 billion ($2.3 million) and we are currently actively working with them for an additional 900 million ($1.3 million) from Japan,” he said. “We do not want to underestimate the very important and important contribution from the national private sector where we have recorded 1.2 billion ($1.8 million). What are the other partners doing? We are still waiting and we look forward to hope. Let’s continue to wait.”

Tasong said Cameroon’s government contributed 70 percent of the funds earmarked for the reconstruction plan.

When the government launched the plan in 2020, it promised to rebuild 12,000 private homes and public buildings that had been destroyed by fighters. So far only 40 schools and 20 hospitals have been rebuilt.

According to Tasong, hundreds of farmers and fishermen also received funds to resume activities in towns and villages, where there is relatively calm. The government said at least 15 markets have been rebuilt.

Elsie Ambe, a Cameroonian businessman, attended a meeting on Wednesday in Yaounde as a potential donor. He said donors shy away from contributing as separatists continue to set fire to government property and people’s homes in Yaounde on suspicion of being sympathetic to the central government.

“The people who destroyed the infrastructure we already have, they are still there and if their minds are not rebuilt, they (continue) will be destroyed,” she said. “So I think moral reappraisal and harmonious living together should be treated as a priority. From there, you (the government) can think of any other necessity. Rebuilding the mind is a fundamental basis of reconstruction.”

Separatists on social media platforms including WhatsApp and Facebook say they intend to disrupt the plan developed by President Paul Biya in 2020. This month, the government said fighters either chased or abducted road workers from several towns and villages in the Southwest region.

The government said it should continue with the plan to revive the economy of the troubled areas and bring back those fleeing the crisis. It also said that most of the 700,000 children whose schools were burned down five years ago would be able to return to the classroom to resume their education.

Cameroon’s government said the separatists would be defeated if citizens reported fighters hiding and destroying public buildings in English-speaking areas.

Biya drew up a reconstruction plan and said he was implementing a proposal approved in October 2019 when he organized a national dialogue to resolve the crisis in the western regions. Separatists who are seeking to create a republic called Ambazonia did not join, saying they would only be ready to discuss the terms of their quest for independence.

Separatists have been fighting since 2017 to separate the English-speaking North-West and South-West from the rest of the country and its French-speaking majority.

The United Nations says more than 3,300 people have been killed in the separatist conflict, of whom about 750,000 have fled their homes to safer French-speaking cities and neighboring Nigeria.

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

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