Proposal 5: Women for Peace in Cameroon - Reach Out

Peace Award 2021: Shortlist Award of the Donors

The country cannot find peace: This is true of the conflict between the francophone majority of the population and the Anglophone minority in the west of the country. Women, children and adolescents in particular suffer as a result of the brutal disputes involving a separatist Anglophone movement, Islamic terrorist groups, francophone ethnic groups and the central government. Any attempt to live a civilian life is thus nipped in the bud. The organisation Reach Out (REO) empowers women, supports young people and addresses problems. In doing so, it makes an important contribution to the peace process.

One example: A school in Kumba is brutally attacked. Nineteen students are badly injured, seven die at the scene of the crime. An agreement had been made between hostile groups after four years with no working education system. To no effect. REO organises demonstrations and ensures that the local authorities are made responsible for dealing with the terrible crime. Journalists are in part significantly restricted in carrying out their work in this country. REO serves as a whistle-blower by demanding accountability for war crimes and by publishing breaches of human rights on a public website.

It is the women who desire and strive for peace with all their might. They do not want to live without their men or lose their sons in action. REO helps women to recognise and accept how important their role is in the peace process. Coaching and training programmes teach them how to take an active part in promoting peace in the face of family disputes, questions within the community and regional conflicts with local authorities. Men are integrated into this process to support the women in the peace process.

A youth peace initiative is founded in 2009 in answer to the violence resulting from the increasing influence of the terrorist group Boko Harem. Every year, 100 young people come together to work on ideas such as living together peacefully, healthy living, governance and community development. In this way, REO in Cameroon carries out pioneer work. Young people in danger of being radicalised as well as unemployed youths are trained and motivated to campaign for peace.

The health service has become a victim of the ongoing armed conflict. Health centres have been closed, destroyed or abandoned. There is no health care available to the people and the mortality rate is increasing. REO distributes hygiene articles, birth kits, basic food stuffs and vitamin supplements. Communities caught up in conflict which are difficult to reach are provided for by a mobile clinic. The organisation supports orphanages and schools.

In cooperation with the founder of REO, Esther Omam, 80 employees are committed to upholding human rights, the peace process, the economic stability of individual households as well as the health of the people living in South and Northwest Cameroon. The organisation, which was founded in 1996 during the widespread HIV epidemic in Southwest Cameroon, supports neighbouring groups, gets involved, and emphatically and consistently demands a cease-fire and non-violent solutions to conflict.

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