Thousands of people marched in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde on Saturday to protest against Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency and support the central African nation’s army, which is fighting alongside its neighbors in the region to defeat the armed group.
Organizers said the march was aimed at informing the public, especially in the southern part of Cameroon, about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which has carried out regular cross-border raids in the far north. Yaounde is located in the central region of the country.
“It was important to tell Cameroonians that we are at war and a part of the country is suffering,” said Gubai Gatama, a newspaper editor, who was among the march’s organizers. “About 150,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.”
In addition to its own citizens forced to flee the violence, thousands of refugees have poured into Cameroon from northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is seeking to carve out a separate state. “Some 170 schools in Cameroon’s northern region have been closed,” Gatama said.
Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency in Nigeria has spread to neighboring countries, where the group has launched attacks over the past year, burning villages and kidnapping residents.
The other Lake Chad region nations threatened by Boko Haram — Cameroon, Niger and Chad — have launched a joint offensive to quell the rebellion and claim to have retaken territory from group in recent weeks.