U.S. Ends Military Aid To Cameroon Over 'Gross Violations Of Human Rights'
The U.S. claims these violations include "targeted killings, detentions ... and burning and looting of villages."
The Trump administration will cut military aid to Cameroon due to the country's human rights violations, White House officials report.
According to CNN, roughly $17 million in aid bookmarked for security, radar and military vehicles will stay in U.S. accounts. The decision will also impact training programs for vehicle operators, including Cameroonian soldiers who were meant to learn to pilot helicopters and C-130 airplanes.
Cameroon will also no longer be a candidate for the U.S.' State Partnership Program which helps other countries warding off terrorism. As Blavity has reported, Boko Haram has plagued the West African region for nearly a decade, making the end of this military aid especially significant.
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35,000 people are seeking shelter in Cameroon after fleeing repeated attacks by Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria. The UN & partners are on the ground providing life-saving aid: https://t.co/KEyh4jOh6J pic.twitter.com/2VQsqdrEnT— United Nations (@UN) February 5, 2019'
U.S. officials claim the number of human rights violations they've witnessed in the West African nation forced the Trump administration to decide Cameroon will have to deal with Boko Haram and other terrorists on its own.
"We continue to urge the Cameroonian government to take all credible allegations of gross violations of human rights seriously, investigate those allegations thoroughly, hold accountable the perpetrators of such abuses, and disclose the outcome of the investigations to the people of Cameroon," a State Department official told CNN.
According to the U.S. ambassador to Cameroon, these violations include "targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross and burning and looting of villages."
The nation's government has also been accused of cracking down on public demonstrations and freedom of speech.
A 2018 report from Amnesty International found the French- and English-speaking nation responded to Boko Haram provocations with overwhelming force that saw innocent citizens caught up in "arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and deaths in custody."
The human rights organization also found the government tried journalists, teachers and other civilians in military courts.
Protests organized in response to these alleged abuses were carried out throughout 2017 and 2018 but were marred by violence. Security forces shot at protesters, and scores were arrested. Amnesty International reports 53 protesters were arrested between late October 2016 and February 2017 alone.
The State Department said it remains open to working with Cameroon on other, nonmilitary initiatives.
"For the time being, other programs will continue. We do not take these measures lightly, but we will not shirk from reducing assistance further if evolving conditions require it," the department's spokesperson said.
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