Intercommunal disputes first appeared in Cameroon’s Far North in 1992 as tensions arose between communities’ native inhabitants over food, land, and water in the Logone-et-Chari department and have lasted till date. Affected areas include the Musgum, Kotoko, and Arabchoua communes, resulting in the displacement of several individuals to Chad. As a result of the absence of major government initiatives to resolve the crisis, terrorists have thus far benefited from Native animosities. Growing conflicts between herders, farmers, and fishermen in Cameroon’s Far North area culminated in a violent uprising that drove thousands of people from their homes in December 2021.
Over 43,000 Cameroonian refugees had been registered by UNHCR by February 2022 in neighboring Chad, where registration is still ongoing, while only over 36,000 individuals were still internally displaced within Cameroon following a clash at Moutouroua in Mayo-Kani department on 9 February 2022 between the Mbororos and local farmers were reported at Titingand another at Kotoko in Logone-et-Chari department on 10 February 2022, between the Arabchouas and the Musgums. These conflicts have been in part caused by the rising effects of Boko Haram terrorists among communities and the circulation of firearms in the hands of former rebels, national army members, and smugglers in these communities.
Also, the Lake Chad Basin, which has lost more than 90% of its water surface, is thought to be one of the causes of this conflict. The underserved communities struggle with enormous challenges like endemic poverty, inadequate governmental services, and terrorist attacks. In addition, they experience growing environmental degradation, which increases food insecurity and competition for limited resources.
Communal conflicts have also surged in parts of the Littoral and Southwest regions, which could be associated with land disputes within the affected localities. Over the past few weeks, the South West Region’s Akwaya department has seen more than 30 deaths as intercommunal violence has increased dramatically. The crisis started when natives of Oliti village in the Akwaya department allegedly attacked Messaga Ekol village on their farms on April 29, 2022, resulting in at least twenty (20) casualties and inciting Messaga Ekol locals to retaliate. 48 hours of massacre ensued on 25 and 26 June 2022 in the Akwaya department, resulting in 20 fatalities.
As a result of the recurrent violence, some churches have reportedly been shut down in the area and several villagers fled into neighboring Nigeria. The South West region is still experiencing instability since the conflict’s underlying causes have not been addressed, and the environment there does not support the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of the displaced populations.
Due to the evolving terrorism in the Far North and Southwest, the substantial conflicts within these regions should not be undervalued. The periodic conflicts may represent exploratory efforts to assess and sample border fortifications, unintentionally laying the groundwork for later strategic and organized operations by Boko Haram terrorists and separatist fighters to cause more fatalities in these regions, particularly the Mayo-Kani, Logone-et-Chari, and Manyu departments.
In order to satisfy prosecutorial concerns, truth-seeking, normalization of relations, and healing of the impacted communities, transitional justice systems are also worth investigating. It might be possible to reduce the desire for intra- and inter-community retaliation by looking into and prosecuting the alleged assailants of attacks, as well as compensating the victims.