Thousands of people marched in Cameroon’s capital yesterday to protest against Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist movement based in northeast Nigeria, but also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.
The marchers in Yaounde also showed their support for the army, which is fighting alongside regional neighbours to defeat the Islamist group.
The march was aimed at informing the public, especially in the southern regions, about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which is seeking to carve out an Islamist state and has carried out regular raids in northern Cameroon. The demonstrators carried the flags of Cameroon and Chad, two of the African countries that have deployed troops to bolster the Nigerian army in a cross-border fight.
Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria has spilt over its borders into neighbouring countries. Niger is also part of the joint offensive to quell the rebellion, an alliance which claims to have retaken territory from the militant group in recent weeks.
“It was very important for Cameroonians to come out as a sign of solidarity for the 150,000 internally displaced people, for the 200,000 Nigerian refugees, and the 170 schools that have been closed,” Guibal Gatama, a journalist and the event’s main organiser, said. “I am optimistic that the military will be galvanised and I am sure Boko Haram has got the message that the people are united against them.”
Muhamadou Labara Awal, another participant, said: “It was important for me to be here as I’m not a soldier to be deployed to Fotokol [near the border with Nigeria and regularly targeted by Boko Haram],” he told Reuters “The only way I could pay homage to our troops was to be here.”
The solidarity march was also to discourage Cameroonian youths from joining the extremist group, said journalist Ndi Eugene Ndi, from the march.
Buma Yvonne, who lost his younger brother in the fight against Boko Haram, said: “Our children, our brothers, our parents are giving their lives up there [in northern Cameroon] for our sake; it is very, very important to come out to show our support for them.”
AP; ReutersReuse content