The United States stepped up pressure for a peaceful resolution to Cameroon’s conflict between state forces and English-speaking rebels on Monday, imposing visa restrictions on individuals believed to be undermining efforts to end the crisis.
Cameroon’s two western Anglophone regions have been gripped by fighting since 2017 as the rebels try to break away from the predominantly Francophone government. More than 3,500 people have died and 700,000 have been displaced in the violence.
Announcing the visa sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was deeply concerned by the continued insecurity and called for both sides to negotiate for peace.
“This decision reflects our commitment to advance a dialogue to peacefully resolve the Anglophone crisis and support respect for human rights,” he said in a statement.
He did not say which individuals might be affected by the visa restrictions.
Rights groups accuse both sides of committing atrocities. While the government typically dismisses these accusations, it has, in a few cases, subsequently arrested soldiers and accused them of being involved in killings and torture.
In 2019, the Trump administration ended Cameroon’s preferential trade benefits citing extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces.
Announcement of Visa Restrictions on Those Undermining the Peaceful Resolution of the Crisis in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon
The United States is deeply concerned by the continued violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. We continue to call for both the Cameroonian government and separatist armed groups to end the violence and engage in a dialogue without preconditions to peacefully resolve the crisis. It is important that children can attend school and that humanitarian aid can be delivered. We urge all relevant stakeholders in Cameroon and in the diaspora to engage constructively and seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
We condemn those who undermine peace through engaging in or inciting violence, human rights violations and abuses, and threats against advocates for peace or humanitarian workers.
I am establishing a policy imposing visa restrictions on individuals who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. This decision reflects our commitment to advance a dialogue to peacefully resolve the Anglophone crisis and support respect for human rights. The United States strongly supports the Cameroonian people, and we remain committed to working together to advance democracy and mutual prosperity for both our countries.