Buea and its towering mountain represents a historic dream of Southern Cameroonians either living in fear at home, awaiting trials in La Republic du Cameroun (LRC) military courts, in exile abroad, displaced within the Cameroon wilderness, or presently struggling to survive the vagaries of refugee life across the border in Nigeria. This mountain is emblematic of the freedoms that the peoples of the former British Cameroon once had, then lost, and currently striving for. Standing up for freedom and a rewarding life for refugees is at the core of PHOSCAR.
Partners in Hope for Southern Cameroons Refugees (PHOSCAR) is a nonprofit organization that was founded to serve the needs of the displaced people from the Southwest and Northwest regions of the Cameroons. This organization is incorporated as a nonprofit in Minnesota and has already filed paperwork with IRS to get approval for the 501c (3) status. Please click below to read our history.
Motto: Partnership is key.
Vision: Every SC attains a thriving livelihood with full freedoms, dreams and aspirations.
Our vision is founded on the following:
• The Southern Cameroon refugees are a thriving, independent, community-minded people.
• Our greatest wish is to restore full and meaningful livelihood to SC people
• All human life in Cameroon holds equal value where all voices are heard, dignity is upheld and mutual respect binds us all.
• We believe in a shared humanity.
• We give voice to the voiceless, provide a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual path out of oppression.
• Empowerment — We strive to empower refugees to stand on their own on every level of life… more than just fixing the problem…set people on the path of better opportunities and success.
• Accountability: We are accountable for what we say and do in alignment with our mission, vision and values.
• Stewardship: We guide and represent the organization holistically
• Compassion: We share in the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world.
• Integrity/Truth Telling: We maintain high standards by doing what we say we are going to do. Reliability, honesty, the desire and openness to speak truth to power… beyond the fears of reproach.
• Excellence in service: We show the world that our work is important and we do it with the highest standards. We set tangible goals and achieve them. We are highly committed to the mission of our organization.
Strategy: Make the plight of the Southern Cameroons People a household story around the world.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.” – Pope Francis
The refugee crisis came about through a combination of events. The primary event or catalyst is the historic Cameroon Anglophone problem. This problem is probably best explained by the Cameroon Anglophone Catholic Bishops in their open letter of 2017. To learn more about this, and other stories of about the Southern Cameroon Crisis, please click here. As many people fled from the Southern Cameroons—the former British colony—into Nigeria, the government of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) set about on a campaign to block any news of displaced people both internally and externally. There are many news reports of soldiers forcefully blocked people at the Nigerian border using any and every means necessary to ensure no Southern Cameroons refugees escaped the terror unleashed in their villages alive. In some situations skirmishes broke out between LRC and Nigerian border patrols when Cameroonian soldiers chased refugees into Nigerian and/or invaded border villages where informants brought news to them of refugee encampments.
Making the Escape
Refugees, desperate for survival resorted to taking treacherous routes through the wild stretches of uninhabited rain forests with nearly impassable underbrush. With no tents, mosquito repellents, first aid of any kind, many reached Nigeria heavily dehydrated, malnourished, with untreated wounds and with high fevers from the malaria and typhoid infections.
Crossing the border for most refugees, was just one phase in the nightmare that their lives had become. Fear of being captured and returned to Cameroon kept many in hideouts, in remote enclaved villages, and away from venturing out into the open where they could get some form of help. At this point in time, no one knows how many refugees have been lost between the Cameroon-Nigerian borders. Efforts are still underway to track and locate all refugee settlements.
As Nigeria and Cameroon seemed to violate international law—with Cameroon soldiers crossing the border to forcibly capture and imprison refugees without trials, and the Nigerian government in Abuja arresting and handing over refugees and asylees to Cameroon authorities—Southern Cameroonians have been caught between a frying pan and a big fire.
What makes this worse is that the world seems to stand by and watch and do nothing.
This inaction in the face of what is quickly becoming unspeakable genocide is spurred emigrants of the Southern Cameroons in diaspora to take to the streets. Out of these regional calls for the world to wake up and take notice, many social chat groups were created on WhatsApp. One of these was the “Ambazo Women of Minnesota”.
Birth of PHOSCAR
What made the Ambazo Women of Minnesota different from another chat group was the fact that from the very beginning, this forum set out to be action-oriented. While many Southern Cameroonians in the diaspora were wringing their hands in frustration at the helplessness of the situation in their country, the Ambazo Women wanted to do something about those who needed help the most. More importantly, the Ambazo Women wanted to step up where the international community was seemingly failing: the United Nations had done an abysmal job in the ongoing extermination of English-Speaking Cameroonians and in advocating for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers under the Geneva Convention.
With the international community largely ignoring the humanitarian crisis, PHOSCAR, by necessity, was founded mostly by women of Southern Cameroons heritage and a few men.