Achaleke Leke ,
Please provide us with your views on the state of peace in the country you will represent at the One Young World Summit
Cameroon has been a relatively peaceful country until 2013. This relative stability has been disturbed from three directions: the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) that has led to sporadic attacks from CAR militias in the East Region of Cameroon and the influx of refugees from CAR; incursions by the islamists fundamentalist group Boko Haram in the Far North Region from the Northeast of Nigeria; and the socio-political crisis in the English-speaking (Northwest and Southwest) regions. While the militias from the CAR attack civilians and the Cameroonian soldiers, Boko Haram militants have masterminded explosions in public spaces and have kidnapped tourists, missionaries, religious and traditional authorities. The socio-political crisis in the English-speaking regions that started as demonstrations against marginalisation has now degenerated into a full civil war between the Cameroonian military and armed separatist groups advocating for the creation of an independent state called ‘Ambazonia’.
How do you think your work and/or activism contribute to countering violent extremism and a sustainable peace?
Since the creation of Local Youth Corner Cameroon (LOYOC) in 2002, our focus has been on capacity-building and on engaging young people in peacebuilding and preventing violence. Our work has impacted over 1 million young people across Cameroon and abroad. We focus on skills and capacity building, evidence-based research, policy development and advocacy on countering violent extremism and sustaining peace. For example in 2013 we developed a youth training manual on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, which has been used to train over 20,000 young Cameroonians. Similarly, we developed a sensitisation video on youth radicalisation and recruitment by violent extremist groups in 2014, which has so far empowered over 15,000 young people. In 2015, LOYOC organised the first ever dialogue between youth CSOs, government institutions and street children aimed at curbing the radicalisation and recruitment of street children into violent extremist groups. As a result, the government accelerated and enhanced its support of skills development for street children. LOYOC has equally advocated for the creation of a National Youth Centre for countering violent extremism. The government of Cameroon has adopted this idea with support from the CVE Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Furthermore, LOYOC initiated a project to empower youth CSOs as agents of rehabilitation and reintegration of former violent extremist offenders. Through the National Rehabilitation and Reintegration Network created by this project, the Far North Regional Chapter of the Network is currently rehabilitating over 100 former Boko Haram fighters through skills development and psychosocial support. LOYOC’s Creative Skills for Peace project, currently running in 8 prisons located in 6 regions of Cameroon, is creating a new generation of 300 entrepreneurs called ‘Prisonpreneurs’ from former violent offenders in these facilities, through entrepreneurship, leadership and peacebuilding training. In relation to policy development, LOYOC was among the advocacy team for the adoption of the UNSCR2250 and the development of the Youth Action Agenda to counter violent extremism and promote peace.