As the world celebrated Children’s Day on Tuesday, dozens of school students in Cameroon were kidnapped by gunmen, along with their principal and a teacher.
This was not the first time such incident takes place in Cameroon, this school year, five children and a school principle lost their lives after they got shot inside the class in one of the schools near Bamenda, capital of the Northwest Region.
Moreover, in Nov. 2018, 80 students were kidnapped from a school in northwest Cameroon; they were later freed, which indicates that a ransom might had been paid for their release.
It is pertinent to mention that all of these areas have active separatist movements. In 2016, citizens of the northwestern and southwestern areas decided to separate from the central government in Yaoundé, not for ethnic or historical reasons but for linguistic reasons.
Cameroon’s government, education, and legal systems are dominated by the larger French-speaking region. In recent years, tensions have mounted as people from the Anglophone regions have complained about being marginalized by the Francophone-led establishment.
Therefore, rebel groups in the country spread under that cover, and they are not that much different from radical terrorist groups.
Worse still, Boko Haram deem schools and educational institutions an easy hunt for hostages and ransoms.
The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.
In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on March 21, 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.
Militants from Nigeria’s Boko Haram group has abducted more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) reported.
Nearly 80 countries, including Cameroon, France and the UK, have signed the Safe Schools Declaration, a global campaign to insulate schools and students from the ravages of war and armed conflicts.
With Boko Haram still attacking schools in Nigeria, UNICEF donations that are dedicated to developing education in this area get affected. One of the UNICEF programs is to provide training for 150,000 primary school students on safe evacuation and lockdown procedures.