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Cameroon Separatists Kidnap Students For Sitting For Public Exams

With a school boycott call persisting for six years in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, students and pupils who braved odds to write the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) and the First School Leaving Certificate(FSCL) are under attack.

Parents whose children took official national examinations in the crisis-hit northwest of Cameroon have raised an alarm over a series of kidnappings carried out by separatist fighters on their children.

In 2017, Cameroon separatists banned schools from operating in the two English-speaking regions of the country, warning defaulters would face consequences.

They  began clashing with government forces in an attempt to establish an independent nation they called “Ambazonia” in the two Anglophone regions.

Despite the boycott call, many schools continue to operate, though students are asked to wear mufti over uniforms, in order not to be targeted.

Some 27000 candidates sat for the GCE Exams

2023 session in the Northwest region on May 30.

Bui division, one of the most affected communities of the six-year war, witnessed an increased number of candidates from 750 last year to 1260 in 2023. The Divisional Delegate of Secondary Education, Baijong Ezikiel, says this increase is a sign of progressive return to normalcy in the division.

Although these students successfully wrote the exams within three  weeks amid strict security, some of them have been kidnapped and regained freedom days later, after their families  paid heavy fines.

A local source in Kumbo, headquarter of Bui division said their daughter was kidnapped on her way back from a neighbour’s home and kept away from the family for three days.

“We were so confused because they often see her  and know she is going to school. I don’t know why they decided to kidnap her. This has affected her immensely,”she said.

Another parent in Kumbo  who reached HumAngle on telephone said he paid $250 to free his daughter from a separatist camp.

“One of them asked me to pay $1663 dollars before my child could be freed. I pleaded and the leader finally said I should pay $500,” he cried.

Separatist fighters are currently making a lot of money from several kidnappings. In February, five students of a secondary school in Kumbo, headquarters of Bui Division,  were kidnapped and over $1500 was demanded from each family. 

The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs reported that  eight attacks on education were registered in February this year in the North-West and South-West.

Over 700,000 children have been impacted by school closures due to violence.

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