Cameroon rebels declare coronavirus ceasefire

A woman displaced from her home in Cameroon outside a health centre in BueaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are fears individuals who have fled their houses within the battle will be unable to get medical assist

A separatist militia in Cameroon is to down its weapons for a fortnight so folks could be examined for coronavirus.

The Southern Cameroons Defence Forces (Socadef) mentioned its ceasefire would come into impact from Sunday as “a gesture of goodwill”.

It is up to now the one armed group amongst many working in Cameroon’s English-speaking areas to have heeded the UN’s name for a worldwide ceasefire.

The fighters say they’re marginalised within the majority French-speaking nation.

For the three years, they’ve been combating authorities forces within the Anglophone areas with the intention of making a breakaway state referred to as “Ambazonia”.

But there is no such thing as a indication that one of the biggest rebel group – Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) – is to comply with go well with and declare a ceasefire.

Chief mediator Alexandre Liebeskind, from the battle decision group Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, instructed the BBC that the ADF had refused to affix the negotiations.

“They are the only group which refused to join the process,” he said.

But he added that he hoped other groups would follow Socadef’s example.

The BBC’s West Africa reporter Chi Chi Izundu says this move by one Anglophone separatist group will not bring the long and bloody conflict to an end, but could be a source of hope in otherwise dark times.

Fighting in the North-West and South-West regions has killed at least 3,000 people and forced more than 700,000 people from their homes, thousands fleeing across the border into Nigeria.

Many displaced people could be in danger of contracting coronavirus and not receiving treatment.

Cameroon’s health ministry has so far has confirmed 75 cases of the virus – and recorded its first death earlier this week.

More on Cameroon’s language conflict:

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Media captionCameroon conflict: ‘I would risk being shot to go home’

Mr Liebeskind says the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue is also appealing to militias elsewhere in Africa – in the Sahel and Central African Republic – in the hope it could allow a “higher response to the coronavirus” as well as “result in some sort of politically negotiated resolution”.

“To do my job you need to be an optimist,” says Mr Liebeskind.

“Sitting in Africa, I am particularly concerned because it’s a fragile continent. The economic and social consequences [of coronavirus] could be devastating if it is not quickly contained.”

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