Cameroonians marched across southern Nicosia on Friday to protest the violent intercommunal clashes that forced thousands to flee the African country.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Engomi. They were holding placards with photos of bodies with the description suggesting they belonged to civilians killed by the military during the ongoing crisis in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon.
The group submitted a petition to the UN community in Cyprus as an appeal to the international community and humanitarian organisations to understand their plight and help put an end to the deadly conflict.
The petition cited incidents of discrimination from the francophone government of Cameroon against the two anglophone communities in the North-West and South-West regions. This led to the internal displacement of over 712,000 people as of August last year, while at least 2.2 million people were in need of humanitarian aid, according to estimates by the Human Rights Watch NGO.
“So many southern Cameroonians fled the country and are flooding to other countries including Cyprus. This is a crisis and that has been going on since 2016,” representative of the community in Cyprus Mokundu Elvis Bokanda told the Cyprus Mail.
According to the United Nations, at least 15,000 Cameroonians were forced to flee their homeland in just a few days in December due to violent incidents.
Commenting on the peaceful demonstration, UNHCR public information officer Emilia Strovolidou said “we received their petition, and we will forward it to our European bureau”.
Protestors left the UN refugee agency singing their traditional songs.
Earlier, they had presented a memorandum of understanding during a meeting at the foreign ministry, where they also updated officials on the “atrocities” taking place in the country using photos and videos.
Demonstrators marched to EU House at 11.30am before heading to the interior ministry at noon where they handed a relevant memorandum to a representative.
Representatives of the community were also expected to hold an open information event at Strovolos municipality in the evening.