Covid-19, security concerns threaten that Cameroonian football tournament authorities should ensure the safety and protection of CAN players and fans


The 33rd biennial African Cup of Nations (CAN) will be held in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022. But key questions remain about the government’s ability to ensure the safety and well-being of players and fans.

European Association of Football Clubs, international observers and media have expressed concerns about the threat the Covid-19 pandemic poses to the large gathering of players and officials in Cameroon, as well as the insecurity that reigns in the two English-speaking regions of the country where the matches will be played.

Since 2017, the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon were embroiled in cycles of violence between government forces and armed separatist groups seeking the country’s independence. Several separatist leaders and activists have publicly threatened to disrupt CAN if the authorities do not withdraw government troops from these areas. One group, citing its opposition to the holding CAN in the region, claimed responsibility for a December 12 A bomb exploded which injured several people in an overcrowded district of Buea, the regional capital of the South-West. This is the fourth explosion in the city since November.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented how the crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon has severely reduced people’s access to healthcare and medical facilities, and how widespread corruption has drained most 382 million US dollars in International Monetary Fund ready to Cameroon to fight against Covid-19.

Despite these concerns, on December 20, Patrice Motsepe, president of the African Football Confederation (CAF), insisted the tournament would take place, while Cameroonian authorities said they would provide security around the event and have deployed additional troops to English-speaking regions to prevent armed separatist attacks. However, the history of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon shows that the government’s response has often failed to protect passers-by from attack.

Cameroonian authorities have a responsibility to protect participating teams, officials and supporters from damage and to take measures to prevent attacks before and during the match. CAN tournament. They should refrain from staging matches in areas where they cannot guarantee the safety of players and supporters and put in place additional measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, including by limiting the number of supporters attending. matches and implementing a testing policy for all participants while providing support to those who need to self-isolate after testing positive.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

© Organization of the African Press, source Press Releases

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