Catholic Bishops in Cameroon have expressed their “compassion” for victims of violence in the Far North region as well as the Northwest and the Southwest regions of the Central African nation.

In the final communiqué issued at the end of their 47th Annual Seminar, members of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) denounce the “horrendous acts perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in the Far North Region and they express deep compassion for the victims.” NECC members deplore “all forms of violence in the country, especially the atrocities committed in the North-West and South-West Regions.”

They express their “constant paternal solicitude and continual prayer for all.” Cameroon’s English-speaking regions plunged into conflict in 2016 after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent. An armed movement of separatists claiming independence for the so-called Republic of Ambazonia emerged following the government’s crackdown on protesters.  School boycotts have become common in these areas, as have enforced moratoriums on public life, resulting in what is known as “ghost towns”.

In the Far North, attacks by Nigeria’s Boko Haram fundamentalist sect have reportedly caused more than 320,000 people to flee the region. In their two-page communiqué following the January 6-13 Seminar organized under the theme, “A Synodal Church on Mission”, NECC members express concern about “the growing and yawning poverty among the population” They appeal for “greater justice, solidarity, hard work and continuous trust in God.”

During their weeklong Seminar, Catholic Bishops in Cameroon also reflected on the recognition of the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Simon Mpeke, popularly known as Baba Simon, and urged all the People of God to “pray fervently for his canonization.”