Following the abduction of at least 70 schoolchildren in Cameroon’s Anglophone region, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy regional director for West and Central Africa said:
“These appalling abductions show just how general population is paying the highest price as violence escalates in the Anglophone region.
“The abduction of schoolchildren and teachers can never be justified. Whoever is responsible must release and return the victims immediately.
“We express solidarity with the families of these children and demand that the Cameroon authorities do everything in their power to ensure all the pupils and school staff are freed unharmed.
“In a case with a chilling echo of the 2014 kidnappings of the Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, it is vital that Cameroon’s government act swiftly and decisively to reunite these children with their loved ones.”
Violence and unrest in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions escalated in late 2016 after a series of strikes and protests against what teachers, lawyers and students viewed as ongoing discrimination against Anglophones. They have since become a fertile ground for horrific human rights abuses on an almost daily basis. Armed separatists burned down schools and attacked teachers, while security forces have tortured people, open fired on crowds and destroyed villages in an ever-worsening spiral of violence.