Kumbo Diocese Documents 385 Deaths In 7 Months

Kumbo Cathedral-Kumbo Diocese

The Kumbo Diocesan Director of Communications, Rev. Elvis Nsaikila Wanyu Njong, S.D, has said 385 civilians have been documented dead within 7 months while 750 houses have been burned in Kumbo. A statement reads that the figures could be higher. This is contained in a detailed report produced by the Diocese, enumerating the damages caused so far on the people in the headquarter of Bui Division.


The situation within the Diocese of Kumbo has continued to
deteriorate in the context of the ongoing socio-political crisis in Cameroon,
ever since it degenerated into an armed conflict in 2017. From September 2018
to March 2019 things have only got worse. It began to escalate in the Diocese
in September of 2017 when Cameroon’s security/defence forces used live
ammunition on protesters during protests that were largely peaceful, as noted
by the Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference in their Declaration of 4
October 2017.

There have recently been disappearances and corpses found in
various communities time and again. Within the last 7 months, several civilians
have been killed. Some of those killed have been persons with disabilities and
the aged who could not run away to safety. Here are only a few statistics of the
recent killings: Romajai (4), Mantum (11), Jakiri (03), Meluf (13), Mbiame
(10), Oku (04), Lun (03), Kumbo Square (03), Ndu (06), Nwa (15), Sabongida
(10), Nkor (05), Ngarum (02), Oku (02), Ndu (03), Bomasoh (5) and other places.
Since the close of 2016, a total of 358 civilians have been documented killed
by the belligerent parties – a figure likely to be much higher, since corpses
are being discovered every now and then. It is hard to know the number of state
forces or pro-independence fighters that might have been killed.

Many houses including homes, business centres, private and
public property have been burned down in various localities in the Diocese of
Kumbo within the last 7 months. The belligerent parties have not claimed or
accepted responsibility for these burnings. Yet the figures are quite alarming,
as indicate these few statistics:

In Kumbo Parish: Kumbo Squares/Taa-Nkum (36), Lun (03); In Shisong Parish: Shisong (01), Kirumin (13), Mbuluf (46); In Jakiri Parish: Mantum (09), Shiy (03), Ber (27), Jakiri (06), Noi (7); In Bamkika’ay Pastoral zone: Bamkika’ay (16), Romajay (24); In Mbiame Parish: Mbiame (10); In Meluf Parish: Nsa’me (21), Fiikov (08); In Ndzevru Parish: Ndzevru (36); In Oku Parish: Kive (20), Mbam (4), Tolon/Jikijem (4), Lang (2), Mboh (6), Lui (3); In Ngarum Parish: Taku (18), Nchati (16);In Nwa Pastoral Zone: Mbak (85); In Tobin Parish: Nyaaro (39), Bamngoiy (3), Yungkui (03).

In all, over 750 houses and structures have been burned in
the Diocese since the end of 2016 – a figure that is also likely to be higher.

The pro-independence fighters have kept many roads
impassable and grounded economic activities, the education sector and social
life across the Diocese. There have been repeated reports of abductions by the
same, and in some cases, reported torture and demands for ransoms. These
abductions have included the disquieting saga of Saint Augustine’s College: 176
members of the college were abducted on 16 February 2018, including 170
students generally below 18 years of age. Three priests – who tried to follow
the trail of the abductees – were also detained by the same, and all were only
released the following evening. The incident forced the institution to close
down, alongside the Minor Seminary. The enrolment in our Catholic Schools for
the academic year 2015-2016 before the crisis escalated indicates an estimate
of the number of children who are likely to be out of school now, except those
who have moved and enrolled in other places: in Nursery and Primary Schools, 19,500
and in Secondary/High Schools, 5,000.

The health sector has been greatly affected. Kumbo is home
to Saint Elizabeth General Hospital and Cardiac Centre, Shisong (the only
cardiac centre in West and Central Africa), Banso Baptist Hospital (B.B.H), and
the centre run by the psychiatrist Dr Eric Gohla. Several people are said to
have died at home, who might have survived if they had access to health
facilities. It is hard to imagine how many lives are being lost for the simple
reason that patients are not able to move. The hospitals have had a tough time
getting medication and other hospital provisions into Kumbo. Patients that are
referred to those hospitals, or from them to others, often get stuck. Those
from around, who might manage to find a motorbike to transport them, pay huge
sums of money to get to health facilities. They end up not having money to foot
hospital bills or pay for medication. Health workers have been victims of the
crisis. Three nurses have already been shot and killed on their way to/from
work, dressed in their work attire. State forces have got into health
facilities with firearms supposedly searching for anyone suspected to be a
pro-independence fighter undergoing treatment.

There have also been reports of looting and rape. And in
addition to the activities of the state forces and pro-independence fighters,
there is a possibility that a few individuals might be using the situation to
settle personal scores with others. Because of all these – the killing,
looting, burning, rape, random gun battles, shortage of food and other
provisions, abductions and torture, growing hate and suspicion, difficulty of
burying the dead with dignity, threats and so on – thousands of persons have
been displaced within the Diocese, and many others have fled to other places
out of the Diocese. Our services have documented over 9,900 persons displaced
within the Diocese, with statistics available only from 19 out of our 34
Parishes and Pastoral Zones – and this is a conservative figure. Many of them
live for days and weeks in the farms and bushes. Kumbo, the seat of the
Diocese, is largely deserted and many settlements turning to ruins.

The farming season of 2018 was irregular due to the
situation; so has been the one that is just beginning, with only an estimate of
20% of the population having planted in an area that largely depends on
agriculture. Food insecurity, malnutrition and associated health challenges are
imminent in the near future.

Pastoral activities are slowing down and becoming more and
more tortuous. However, none of our Parishes has been closed down, even though
some mission stations have been deserted or find it hard to function. This is
evidence of the deepening of faith in our communities and the commitment of the
clergy and other pastoral agents as well as the faithful in the various
Parishes and Pastoral Zones. The Bishop of Kumbo, Most Rev. Msgr. George Nkuo,
salutes this resilience and commitment. A number of Diocesan pastoral
engagements have, however, been suspended, the last of them being the Annual
Pilgrimage to Boyong Hill in St. Martin de Porres’ Parish, Ndu, which takes
place statutorily every Friday of the Third Week of Lent. This is due to the
fact that roads have remained blocked, and also because the Church cannot
guarantee that going ahead would not unnecessarily endanger the lives of the
faithful. Deaneries and Parishes are organising pilgrimages at their various
levels, as requested by the Bishop earlier. Some have already successful
carried out the pilgrimages to various significant places.

The Diocese of Kumbo, together with some of her partners
such as MISEREOR (the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development
Cooperation) and the Diocese of Limburg in Germany, and using donations from
other groups and individuals as well as local collections, has been offering
assistance to some of those displaced and affected. This emergency relief
programme has comprised food, material items, provision of health services and
psychosocial support. Hundreds of these Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
have recently been hosted in some of our Diocesan facilities and in the homes
of some individuals.

The Bishop of Kumbo renders gratitude to all the groups and
individuals that have made donations to support this endeavour or are hosting
some of the IDPs, and to all those who are yet to do so. He condemns the
atrocities being committed within the Diocese, and expresses his sincere
condolence to those who have lost dear ones. He likewise denounces the gun
battles in civilian residential areas and near health facilities, as well as
the intimidation within hospitals and other health facilities. The Bishop calls
on all those who can offer assistance to the IDPs, to do so through our CARITAS
Department, which has been working in collaboration with our Diocesan Justice
and Peace, Family Life and Health Commissions. He further urges all the
faithful to continue praying for justice and peace, that all the stakeholders
may silence the guns, listen to the voice of reason, and find a lasting
solution to the crisis.

Rev. Elvis Nsaikila Wanyu Njong, S.D.,

Diocesan Director of Communications

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