By Monica C. Nkenganyi
AmbaNews24 Correspondent – New York, USA
Repeating the “lock-down” word that has become familiar in the Ambazonia War of Independence to prevent Paul Biya’s regime from carrying out various governance exercises and atrocities in Ambazonia, the U.N. chief, Antonio Guterres on Monday, March 23, 2020 told all leaders in the world – and that includes Paul Biya of Cameroun: “It is time to put armed conflict on lock-down and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
As though addressing directly the dire Ambazonia conflict situation that per UN records has affected 4.5million people, displaced 1.5million internally and kept 900,000 children out of school for almost four years, the U.N scribe said women, children, the disabled, marginalized and displaced and people caught in armed conflicts, which are raging around the world, are the most vulnerable and “are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.
Guterres was speaking at a time the Syrian conflict has entered its 10th year, the conflict in Ukraine is entering its sixth year, the UN has been unable to stop the war in Yemen that is in its fifth year, and the world organization has failed to invoke the principle of the Responsibility to Protect the Ambazonian people who are facing a genocide from Cameroun for the past three and a half years.
Guterres urged warring parties to “put aside mistrust and animosity” and take inspiration from efforts to get rivals to tackle the coronavirus together, but he stressed that much more was needed.
At a time that “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” the secretary-general said, it is time to silence guns, stop artillery, end airstrikes and create corridors for life-saving aid and engage in diplomatic discussions.
The secretary-general added that U.N. envoys in conflict areas will be talking to warring parties “to try to make sure that this global appeal is not only listened to but leads to concrete action, leads to a pause in fighting, creating the conditions for the response to COVID-19 to be much more effective” because in areas of the world under armed conflict, health systems have collapsed and “health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted,” and refugees and the displaced are “doubly vulnerable.”
“If the fighting goes on, we might have an absolutely devastating spreading of the epidemic,” he lamented.
Today, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the United Nations will be launching a $2 billion humanitarian appeal to deal with the pandemic, including refugees and displaced persons.
Guterres said he also sent a letter Monday to leaders of the Group of 20 major economic powers. The G-20 leaders are expected to hold a virtual meeting this week to coordinate efforts necessary to suppress the Covid-19 pandemic. Guterres said he will attend the meeting.
He said this coordination must not only make sure that richer developed countries can respond effectively to the pandemic but that there is “massive support” to prevent the coronavirus from spreading “like wildfire in the developing world.”
At a time when the Coronavirus is beginning to spread in Cameroun like wildfire, with 66 confirmed cases, 1 death and two recoveries, with Yaounde, Douala, and Bafoussam being the hot spots so far, many are asking whether Paul Biya will heed to the call of the UN and immediately ceasefire in a war he declared on the Ambazonian people since November 2017, or maintain the Cameroun government’s policy of annihilating the people of Ambazonian.
Speaking to AmbaNews24, Dr Cho Ayaba, President of the Ambazonia Governing Council that is leading the Ambazonia liberation struggle said, “The Ambazonia Governing Council is categorically against any ceasefire that does not insist on the withdrawal of Cameroun forces from our streets. We cannot contemplate a unilateral ceasefire against the backdrop of ongoing genocide and the utter nonchalance of the international community” to force the Cameroun government to terminate its tyranny and slaughter of Ambazonian women and children immediately.
The ball, therefore, is in the hands of the Cameroun government. There will be a temporal ceasefire to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic if Biya ceases fire and withdraws its military and paramilitary units from the streets of Ambazonia to their barracks. Ensuring that they push the Cameroun government to succumb to this should be the focus of the UN chief and UN agencies such as OCHA on the ground.
However, one cannot be over-optimistic. It will not be absurd to think that the Biya’s Cameroun government will rather prefer to take advantage of the spread of the Covid 19, and rather implement measures that ensure the Ambazonian people are heavily infected by the virus and die amass in a decadent health system in which the occupying Cameroun regime has failed to modernize for over six decades.
Irrespective of how the Covid 19 pandemic is going to decimate the Cameroun economy, what greater joy can the Yaounde regime have than continuing its barbaric war in Ambazonia in the hope that the Ambazonian people will die in hundreds of thousands unprotected from both the Coronavirus and bullets from the Cameroun military? The decision the Biya government makes on the UN call to ceasefire will tell.
The Ambazonian people must, therefore, understand that there is a very high possibility that for the next six to nine months, there will be fighting a Cameroun government enemy that will be holding two guns: one firing iron lead bullets and the other firing Covid-19 viruses in their communities. The people of Ambazonia must, therefore, take all hygienic and social distancing measures while arming themselves to ensure they can resist both the virus and the metal bullets.