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Posts Tagged ‘Cameroon’

counter-terrorism cooperation and combatting illicit trafficking symposium

Posted by African Press International on November 30, 2013

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, November 29, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– Combating terrorism and illicit trafficking were the focus of an international audience who gathered recently in Cameroon.

The U.S. Africa Center for Stratetic Studies (ACSS) co-hosted a symposium on regional counter-terrorism cooperation and the fight against illicit trafficking in Yaoundé on Wednesday, November 20, 2013, in partnership with the ACSS Community Chapter in Cameroon and the U.S. Embassy.

The event took place at the Yaoundé International War College (Ecole supérieure internationale de guerre de Yaoundé [ESIG]). The more than 100 participants included Africa Center community members from the Cameroon Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the University of Yaoundé.

Also in the attendance was a diverse international group of 42 ESIG students representing nearly 20 nationalities, including the United States, who are currently in the midst of a 10-month study program at ESIG. Another group of 12 students from the National School of Security Forces (Ecole nationale de forces de sécurité [ENFS]) attended as well.

Presentations focused on defining and improving regional cooperation in countering terrorism and the threats associated with illicit trafficking.

In his opening remarks, ESIG Commandant Major General Esaïe Ngambou expressed his satisfaction with the selection of topics. “The Africa Center chose two challenging issues that are at the heart of our current preoccupations: regional cooperation against terrorism and illicit trafficking.” He also mentioned that this year’s annual ESIG colloquium will focus on border security, making the symposium a fitting beginning to the colloquium’s preparations.

Colonel Gabriel Metogo Atangana, the ACSS Chapter President, explained the pertinence of the topics discussed, at a time when Cameroon faces the challenges of Boko Haram’s spillover in the northern part of the country.

“ACSS has maintained for nearly 10 years now a close cooperation with the armed forces and law enforcement forces of Cameroon,” he said. “The choice of today’s topics is explained by the magnitude and damaging effects, as well as the consequences in the communities which are affected by these threats,” he noted.

Mr. John Harney, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Project Manager at the J5 Counter-narcotics and Law Enforcement Division, provided an overview of illicit trafficking and laid out how AFRICOM deals with the issue. He also pointed out interagency efforts to harmonize the U.S. government effort in building West African capacities to combat transnational organized crime, particularly narcotic trafficking.

“It takes a network to defeat a network,” Mr. Harney noted, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in defeating international illicit trafficking networks.

The consensus following the symposium was that Cameroonians’ challenges are global challenges. As a result, it will take an all-inclusive effort—for the U.S. and African partners—to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development. Participants also agreed that deeper regional cooperation and international cooperation are keys to success.

 

SOURCE

U.S Africa Command

 

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He speaks of being tortured

Posted by African Press International on September 19, 2013

YAOUNDE,  – Cameroon is among the world’s most hostile countries to homosexualityrights groups say. Homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison, as well as fines.

In the past three years, the country has prosecuted at least 28 people for homosexuality, according to Human Rights Watch.

Roger Jean Claude Mbede, 34, was sentenced to three years in prison for sending an SMS to another man saying, “I’m in love with you.”

“One day in 2011, after going out with friends, I sent an SMS to one of them to express my feelings, but this landed me in jail on charges of homosexuality.

“From the time of my arrest in Yaoundé, I was subjected to torture from the law enforcement officers. They coerced me to disclose information on my past relationships and my sex life. The gendarme officers kept smacking me, tore my shirt and treated me like a bandit.

“And during my prosecution, the judge kept shouting insults at me. I had no lawyer at the time. On 28 April 2011, I was convicted and given two-year prison term.

“While in jail, I suffered continuous abuse from inmates and prison guards. Many times, I went without basic necessities, such as food and water, because the prison officials refused to serve me like the others.

“Thanks to [a] human right defender and lawyer. I started receiving legal representation after some months in prison. This was due to the fact that my health was deteriorating from the ill treatment I was undergoing in prison. I lost close to 15kg, regularly suffered malaria fever and other complications. The lawyer filed a motion for my release on grounds of my health. The motion was granted on July 16, 2012, and I was provisionally released.

“But after my release, the bad publicity about me made me leave my university studies because I was scared of the threats and insults from fellow students and neighbours.

“Since then, my life has not been the same, and this was worsened by the recent killings of homosexuals and public threats made to anyone suspected to be gay or [gay] rights defenders.

“I can’t find a job where people know me. This has made me live in isolation, like many other gays in Cameroon. We have very few people as friends, and it is even a dreadful thing to meet with someone in your similar situation because any gay [meeting place] is a target today.

“My livelihood has mostly been supported by civil society organizations and human rights defenders. But I could start running a blog to defend and promote the rights of LGBT in Cameroon and beyond.

“Due to the tense environment in Cameroon, I am thinking of seeking asylum to any country where my sexual preference will not cause me many problems.

“But it is not an easy decision to make. I miss my friends and family despite their opinion about me.

“The government doesn’t protect suspected gay people from the gruesome killings and threats that many have gone through in Cameroon.

“If every citizen had equal human rights and freedom in Cameroon, carrying condoms and lubricant wouldn’t be a crime, dressing like women and drinking sweet whisky wouldn’t be an offense, and nobody would be arrested for arranging to meet with another man in a hotel lobby.”

mn/ob/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

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Scepticism over relocation plans

Posted by African Press International on July 11, 2013

YAOUNDE,  – Plans by the Cameroonian authorities to move thousands of survivors of the 1986 Lake Nyos gas explosion back to their original homeland have provoked opposition, with concerns over environmental safety and potential land disputes.

Some 12,000 people now live in camps in the Menchum area in Northwest Region following the August 1986 disaster in which carbon dioxide spewed out of the nearby volcanic lake, engulfing villages and killing hundreds of people.

Adolphe Lele Lafrique, head of the Lake Nyos Disaster Management Committee and the governor of Northwest Region, announced in June that survivors would be relocated to Nyos area, but did not say when and how they would be repatriated.

Jeanvier Mvogo of the Department of Civil Protection at the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization said work was under way to render resettlement in Nyos safe.

“The disaster management committee simply alerted the victims to prepare their minds that they will be returning to their homeland. No exact date can be given because work is still going on,” Mvogo told IRIN.

Despite the safety assurance, reticence abounds among the survivors and some environmental groups. “The announcement to resettle victims in Nyos is questionable,” said David Neng of Environment Watch, a local NGO.

“A lot more needs to be done at the site such as building infrastructure and public utilities that will accommodate the people. Problems related to land rights and the use of natural resources by the victims and the people who rushed to settle in Nyos some years after the tragedy need to be solved,” he told IRIN.

For Njilah Isaac Konfor, a campaigner for Lake Nyos disaster survivors, the Cameroonian government has “made great efforts in de-gassing the lake… But the efforts have been rather slow if we consider that the disaster happened 27 years ago and the survivors have been living in these makeshift camps for this long.”

Distrust

The survivors were accommodated in seven resettlement camps. However, basic health, education and other necessities are scarce. Pastoralist communities have been forced to take up farming on small plots, while farming communities decry the lack of sufficient land.

“I don’t trust these promises [to be relocated to Nyos]. It’s been 27 years in this camp and we still lack basic necessities such as hospitals, water and sustainable livelihood support. I don’t think life there will be any better,” said Ismaela Muhamadu who lives with his eight children and two wives in a mud house in Upkwa village in Menchum.

Muhamadu was six when the disaster struck. His parents and siblings were among the 1,800 people killed by the carbon dioxide cloud that swept through Nyos village and up to 15km from the lake, snuffing out almost all human and animal life.

Initially some 4,500 people who could not find refuge were resettled in the camps. This population has risen to around 12,000.

“I’d rather suffer here than die in Nyos. What we need is support not relocation,” said Salifu Buba who lives in Kumfutu camp in Menchum. “We don’t have rights to grazing land. The 30-50 square metres allotted to each household is not even enough for farming, let alone grazing.

“What we know and like to practice as Bororo [ethnic group] is cattle grazing, but when we came to the camp we had no other choice but to become farmers. Many cannot survive on farming because Bororo people dislike farming,” said Buba, 57, arguing that the government should have offered them more sustainable solutions such as giving each family one or two cows to raise. Instead, the government gave them farm tools and oxen for ploughing.

A different view, however, can be heard among residents of nearby Ipalim camp, which hosts mainly Bantu people who are subsistence farmers.

“I would like to go back to the land of abundance because with the few square meters of land that each family was allotted in this resettlement site it is difficult to practice farming,” said Stephen Nju. “We beg for farmland from the community that accepted us here, but we are always regarded as strangers and we have several incidents of farmer-grazer conflicts.”

“We have heard that so much work is going on in Nyos to de-gas the lake and fortify the dam, but we are still waiting for the promises of returning to Nyos to be realized. This camp site is so isolated, we don’t have access roads and health centres,” said Lydia Nzeh, another Ipalim resident.

De-gassing

According to SATREPS, a Japanese government research programme working on safety at Lake Nyos, carbon dioxide from the lake was reduced from 710,000 to 425,000 tons between 2001 and 2012, a 40-percent reduction. The gas concentration around the lake is now considered negligible, said SATREPS in a report.

“The gas level in the lake does not pose any danger to the people around the lake but de-gassing work continues,” said Mvogo of the Department of Civil Protection.

A community of some 200 people currently lives near Lake Nyos around which a security zone has been established with military surveillance to protect installations and infrastructure for the de-gassing project.

However, there are also concerns about the possible breach of the lake’s dam. “Operations have begun to strengthen the weak natural dam. This will reduce the danger of the dam failing and creating a flood,” said Laban Tansi, an Environment Ministry official.

mn/ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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