Gunmen kidnapped 20 students in the English-speaking area of Cameroon Tuesday. The same day the United Nations warned about the "worsening violence" in situations across the country.
The abduction happened in Kumba, where gunmen entered the private Lords Bilingual School around 9:00 a.m. and took 20 students and their principal. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction yet, but the government and the military have begun a "thorough search" for the children, Chamberlin Ntou'ou Ndong, a government official stated.
The Southwest and Northwest provinces have been struck by independentist rebellion groups since 2017. “We are deeply concerned about the worsening violence in the Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon, as we continue to receive reports of abductions and killings by armed groups, as well as extrajudicial killings by State armed forces," said Ravina Shamdasani, U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights' spokesperson.
Earlier this month, other gunmen kidnapped 79 students and three professors from a secondary school in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region of Cameroon, and one of the anglophone regions in the turmoil. Armed groups have called in favor of boycotting schools until an independence referendum is held.
“We urge all sides to refrain from acts of violence that have, for more than a year now, left the population in these regions living in fear, unable to access their basic human rights,” said Ravina Shamdasani.
The 79 students and their teachers were released safely on Nov. 7th. The government accused anglophone separatists of that kidnapping, but they denied their involvement. “They were all subsequently released, after some parents paid ransoms and the Catholic Diocese of Kumba intervened,” Shamdasani specified before reporting on other abductions and human rights violations in the country.
The U.N. also called for an answer to the crisis in the country, appealing to dialogue for a peaceful solution, and stating that the U.N is ready to back this dialogue between northeast and southeast Cameroon.