Cameroon

Overview:  Government of Cameroon (GRC) military commanders described the situation in the Far North (FN) Region as relatively calm, compared with 2020 and 2021, during a security briefing in October reported by the media.  However, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project indicated that Boko Haram and ISIS affiliates were involved in an estimated 425 terrorist attacks in 2022, compared with about 350 in 2021, representing a 21 percent increase.  NGOs working in the region also reported a comparable number of terrorist incidents in 2022, and anecdotal reporting from civilians indicated continued significant terrorist activity in the FN Region.  The GRC continued to not distinguish between Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), attributing all terrorist attacks to Boko Haram.  Yet both organizations conducted attacks, according to multiple credible sources.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, attacks took place mainly in Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Logone-et-Chari Divisions.  According to media, security officers described assaults as uncoordinated and predatory, maintaining that criminal behavior more than ideology drove the attacks.  ISIS-WA maintained a strong presence in Lake Chad and regularly attacked villagers in Logone-et-Chari.  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that as of August there had been an annual increase of 2 percent in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), bringing the total in the FN Region to more than 385,000 — with 88 percent of internal displacements attributed to terrorist activity.

In May, residents of Tourou, Mayo-Tsanaga, protested at the FN governor’s office about the frequent attacks, claiming the violence forced them to spend their nights in the hills, leading many to abandon their villages.  They blamed the attacks on a reduced military presence in the FN and the dismantling of border security posts, which facilitated the entry of terrorists from Nigeria.  Media outlets claimed vigilance committee members continued to abandon their roles owing to lack of governmental support.

Hundreds of ex-combatants continued to join the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Transit center in Meri, FN, where living conditions remained poor.  Despite the center’s growing numbers, the government offered little vocational training and did not initiate formal reintegration.  Some residents reported they had been at the center for more than three years.

Countering terrorist threats remained a top security priority for the GRC, which continued to work with the United States to improve the capacity of its security forces.  The GRC maintained cooperation with the international community on counterterrorism initiatives; through the Multinational Joint Task Force, the army implemented “Operation Lake Sanity” from March to June, resulting in the killing of 800 terrorists.  Cameroon remained a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  Incidents included raids in search of supplies, ambushes, indiscriminate killings, targeted murders, beheadings, abductions, arsons, and lootings against civilians and security personnel.  A representative sample follows:

  • On February 23, Boko Haram terrorists killed three civilians during a raid in Koza.
  • On May 30, Boko Haram terrorists from Nigeria set fire to a military post in Hitawa, Tourou, and killed three soldiers and four civilians.
  • On July 2, ISIS-WA terrorists burned down a hospital in Mada, killing one security guard.
  • On August 22, ISIS-WA terrorists kidnapped 20 fishermen in Hile-Alifa, Logone-et-Chari.
  • On October 10, Boko Haram terrorists killed four civilians during a siege of Mokolo.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Representatives from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Ministry of Defense (MOD), the Ministry of External Relations, and the National Magistrate School drafted a revision of the 2014 antiterrorism law, which was submitted to MOJ and MOD leadership for consideration.  Among other changes, the revision proposed a narrower definition of terrorism acts.

Countering Financing of Terrorism:  Cameroon is a member of the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa (GABAC).  Its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the National Agency for Financial Investigation, is a member of the Egmont Group.  In March, Cameroon completed its GABAC mutual evaluation, which noted that while the country has a good understanding of the high money laundering and terrorist financing risks it was facing, it lacked an authority responsible for coordinating national Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism policies.

Countering Violent Extremism:  In July, FN Governor Midjiyawa Barkary launched a $2.5 million project financed by WHO and the IOM to promote peace and counter violent extremism.  The project built the capacity of 15 health committees that support dialogue within communities and coordinate vocational training programs, economic reinforcement, and capacity building for vulnerable groups, ex-combatants, IDPs, local authorities, and staff at DDR centers.

The National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Committee approved a five-year strategy focused on gender-based violence, stigmatization, and women’s needs to promote women’s engagement in the DDR process.

The government adopted a $10 million budget to implement the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC) in areas affected by terrorism.  PROLAC constructed boreholes, provided improved seedlings and logistical support to farmers, and established national identification cards for 5,000 people in Logone-et-Chari.

Military engineers used funding from the French Development Agency to construct 150 classrooms in 46 localities affected by terrorism in the FN.  The project aimed to facilitate the return and reinsertion of IDPs to their original communities.

The Inclusive Economic and Social Recovery Program for Lake Chad (RESILAC) continued to reinforce resilience and promote social cohesion by creating employment and supporting apprenticeships and entrepreneurship for communities affected by terrorism.  RESILAC’s first phase, which ended in 2022, benefited 32,965 people within Dargala, Koza, Mindif, and Mora in the FN.

During a three-day workshop organized in August by Plan International, 50 youth leaders identified strategies and actions to promote peaceful coexistence within communities.  The training was part of the Lake Chad Regional Stabilization Strategy, which intends to build resilience in zones where youths are vulnerable to ISIS-WA and Boko Haram.

In February and March, the Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism Unit organized a series of workshops in Yaoundé.  The sessions focused on the role of government in CVE, explored the relationship between gender and violent extremism, and provided capacity building on prevention through education.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Cameroon continued its counterterrorism cooperation with the international community, contributing significantly to operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force.

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