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Johannesburg – Approximately one million children are among the 1.9 million people now being negatively impacted by the ongoing separatist violence in Cameroon’s north-west and south-west areas, a 15-fold increase since 2017 and an 80 percent increase since 2018.

On Tuesday in Geneva United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson Marixie Mercado explained that until a few years ago the West African nation was among the most settled and peaceful in the region, UN News reported.

However, following an outbreak of violence in 2017 between security forces and English-speaking separatists demanding an independent state of Ambazonia and claiming marginalisation at the hands of the Francophone government, the country has been wracked by violence with both sides accused of gross human rights abuses by rights groups.

Insecurity – and to a lesser degree, extremely poor road access – has left around 65 percent of both regions out of bounds to aid workers who have also faced increased attacks and risk being taken hostage.

“Arbitrary arrest, burning of villages and indiscriminate killing of civilians are conducted with impunity,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report.

Approximately one million children are now being negatively impacted by the ongoing separatist violence in Cameroon. Video: Zodidi Dano /African News Agency.

The situation has also deprived many children of an education, with thousands of schools closed amid threats by separatists seeking leverage for a political solution to the crisis.

“Three years of violence and instability in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon have left more than 855,000 children out of school”, said Mercado.

African News Agency (ANA)