Five women groups in Cameroon have called on key actors in the Anglophone crisis to give peace a chance by putting down their weapons. The groups include the South West North West Women Taskforce, SNWOT, Southern Cameroons European Women, SCEW, Christian Women Fellowship, CWF, Cameroon Baptist Convention Women’s Department, CBCWD, and the United Methodist Women Association in Cameroon, UMWAC.

Members of the groups say they are alarmed by significant human rights abuses committed by government forces and separatist fighters.

The conflict has brought untold hardship to the masses, claiming thousands of lives and displacing nearly one million people according to the UN. For nearly four years, children have not been to school, amid increased child and maternal mortality, absence of primary health care and acute food shortage.

Citing UN Security Council Resolution, UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and 2535 on cessation of hostilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the women groups say it is necessary for parties in the conflict to “respect human life and dignity and protect the population… stop the alarming death toll, cease all hostilities by all armed actors immediately…”.

In the statement, the women also reveal that they “… expect all parties to announce a cessation of hostilities within the next 30 days,” adding that it should be a written agreement “with each party clearly stating its commitment”.

The groups further urged the government and separatist fighters to ensure dialogue takes place.

“Agree to a 6-month ceasefire to allow for political space to discuss these points…” they urge both parties, adding that the dialogue should be done with representatives of the Anglophone civil society present. The call is one of several others made by within and out of the country, states, and humanitarian bodies for peace to return to the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. UN estimates hold that close to a million kids are already out of school due to the crisis, a situation worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.