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19th of November 2018

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AFRICA/CAMEROON - Anglophone crisis: 79 students kidnapped in Bamenda; the Church organizes a fundraiser in Douala for displaced persons

Yaoundé (Agenzia Fides) - The crisis is worsening in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, where yesterday, 5 November in Bamenda in the north-west of the country, 79 students and three heads of the local Presbyterian secondary school were kidnapped. The kidnappers belong to the "Amba boys", the English-speaking separatists. The serious incident occurred on the eve of the oath of President Paul Biya, recently re-elected for the seventh time. The crisis in the English-speaking regions worsened when their secession was proclaimed a year ago (see Fides 2/10/2018). More than 200,000 people were forced to flee because of the violence of the army and the clashes between the military and secessionist groups. In Douala, the Catholic Church has organized a fundraiser for displaced persons. "Our city of Douala is home to thousands of displaced people who have abandoned their cities, villages and properties in the hope of finding shelter, survival and relief" reads the letter sent to the parish priests of the archdiocese by His Exc. Mgr. Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala and President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC), who announced an extraordinary collection held on Sunday 4 November. The violence does not spare the Catholic Church nor other Christian denominations. In addition to the abduction of the students of the Baptist school, also on October 30 in Bamenda, Charles Wesco, a Baptist missionary, was killed in clashes between loyalist and secessionist forces. On 4 October a Catholic seminarian, Gerard Anjiangwe, was killed (see Fides 16/10/2018). On 23 July Fr. Alexandre Sob Nougi, parish priest of Bomaka, in the south-west, was killed by unidentified armed individuals (see Fides 23/7/2018). The secessionist protests originated from the demand of the inhabitants of the English-speaking regions to use English in teaching and administrative activities, and to adopt the Common Law system of British origin instead of the law based on the French-style code. Stressing that it is not the Church's task to define the form of the State, "Justice and Peace" calls for the application of decentralization, in order to meet the demands of the English-speaking regions. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 06/11/2018)

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