AFRICA/CAMEROON - Spokesman of the Bishops' Conference: "The separatist conflict has now become a question of money"

Wednesday, 5 October 2022 armed groups   local churches  

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - "The separatist conflict has now become a question of money",Fr. Humphrey Tatah Mbuy, Director of Social Communications of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, told Cameroonian television. When it comes to money, it is very difficult to separate a person from his source of income, even if that source is human blood", said Fr. Mbuy referring to the numerous kidnappings in the two English-speaking regions of the country. In the two regions in the north-west and in the south-west, an uprising has been underway against the central authorities since 2016, which the following year led to a conflict between separatist groups and the army, with a toll of more than 4,000 dead and more than 700,000 displaced.
Among those kidnapped are the nine people (including five priests, a nun and three lay people) kidnapped in the assault on the church of Santa Maria in the town of Nchang (see Fides, 19/9/2022).
According to the priest, the conflict arising from the violent repression of the claims of English-speaking teachers and lawyers has turned into "what the French call" L'economie de la Guerre; a war economy".
A war economy in which, according to Fr. Mbuy, not only the separatists participate, but also the military and government officials. There are reports of soldiers detaining people only to release them on payment of a bribe; while kidnapping for ransom has become one of the main ways of raising funds for separatist forces.
Finally, the spokesman for the
Bishops' Conference underlines that priests and religious are being targeted by both sides of the conflict, both for their peacemaking efforts and for kidnappings for extortion purposes.
"A profoundly wrong approach to conflict management is being adopted - explains Father Mbuy -. You don't touch the person who could help you solve your problem, because it's like shooting yourself in the foot", emphasizes the priest, according to whom "the Church right now, and I can say this without any fear, possesses the only moral force capable of helping to resolve the armed conflict in the Northwest and the Southwest". However, Fr. Mbuy complains that although the Church continually professes its neutrality, both sides accuse it of supporting their enemies. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/10/2022)