Cameroon hosts sports tournaments during civil war

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Ambazonian flag. Photo: Herbert Boh
Ambazonian flag. Photo: Herbert Boh

AFRICA. Cameroon is preparing to host two Africa major soccer tournaments, the Africa Nations championship 2020 and Africa cup of Nations 2021. But the real preoccupation here is the security aspects. Will Cameroon succeed to welcome the rest of Africa into a conflictual environment?

By Lilian Neg, Africa correspondent for Newsvoice

Since November 2016, the two English regions of Cameroon have escalated into violence. Constant attacks are registered, exchange of gunfire between the security forces (BIR) and the separatist movement (Ambazonians). A significant number of people have been killed and more refugees are registered on a daily basis following reports made by the UN Central Africa Humanitarian office and Human Rights NGO present in Cameroon.

The last, not the least was the killing and burning on February 14th 2020 of a huge number of civilians amongst which children, elder people and pregnant women at Ngarbuh village of Donga Mantum Division Northwest region of Cameroon. A situation which was condemned by the International Community. It is very difficult to estimate the loss of properties and above all human lives.

During the major National dialogue held last year on the 04th of October 2019 in Yaounde capital of Cameroon, the Government took some measures among which a special status is given to the two English regions but contrary to the demand of the separatists who are asking for more autonomy or Independence everything seems like nothing has been done. Security, therefore, is a challenge. It is unfortunate that Cameroon will welcome the rest of Africa in this context.

As concern the first tournament which will be held from the 04th to the 25th of April 2020, the draw ceremony was done last 17th February 2020 with a particularity which retained our attention. Group D of the competition comprising teams from Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Guinea are based in one of the two conflicted regions notably the South West region. Their game will be plaid in the Limbe Ngueme Stadium. Hopefully, the Government will put a remarkable security coverage to ensure players, CAF delegations, officials and supporters well being during the event.

Football players attacked

It is not an understatement to recall about the security aspect of the organization because few years ago in the same context during the Africa Cup of Nations held in Angola 2010, the Togolese national team bus was attacked near the border between Congo and Angola precisely on the 08th of January 2010 by gunmen belonging to the rebel group called Liberation forces of the state of Cabinda. This incident causes the death of two officials and several injuries.

Obilalé Kodjovi
Obilalé Kodjovi. Photo: Togoweb.net

In spite of several surgeries, the Togolese goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilalé did not recover from the incident. He had no choice but to prematurely put an end to his sports career due to the nature of his handicap.

Although the situation is unstable the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) has given its final approval for the organization. But it is now left for the Cameroonian Government to reach the confidence given by CAF. Will the Government of Cameroon look for a concrete solution to end the violence in the two English regions before the host of the two tournaments? Time will tell.

By Lilian Neg, Africa correspondent for Newsvoice


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