Katie and I have fewer than two weeks left in the Durban area. The plan is to move to Johannesburg for two months, then to Cameroon for two months, and finally to Scotland for two months, before returning to the US in late August.
But the last few weeks have made us think about whether or not we are going to Cameroon. We are not making a call yet, neither saying “we are definitely going” nor that “we are definitely not going”. But it’s a situation we are keeping a close watch on, grateful to contacts who live in Cameroon to give us up-to-date information.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s been going on in Cameroon and the surrounding countries:
Boko Haram – loosely meaning “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa – is attempting to create an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria. Founded in 2002, their official name means “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” in Arabic. In the last few months they have attacked multiple towns mainly in three provinces in northeastern Nigeria – Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa. Last week they tried to take over the capital of Gombe state, adjacent to the three listed here. Some of their weapons are Nigerian military equipment, as the group has overtaken some small military stores in some cities.
Recently, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad have come to Nigeria’s aid in their fight. They have sent troops, called in airstrikes and repelled attacks in their respective countries. They are also providing refugee camps for tens of thousands fleeing the violence in Nigeria. Because of this, Boko Haram has said they will be targeting these countries – and they have carried out an attack against Chad and at least one against a town in northern Cameroon.
Boko Haram’s numbers are estimated to be around 9,000. The African Union recently said they will be sending 7,500 troops to help in the fight, and Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad have all committed significant levels of troops.
The US State Department’s latest update on travel to Cameroon warns of going north of the city of Ngaoundere, and says they are not sending US personnel north of there. Meiganga, where we are planning to stay, is about two hours south of Ngaoundere by car. We are in contact with the ELCA liaison in Cameroon as well.
This is a very quick rundown of what is going on. The BBC has some good information about all this, that they keep well updated, in case you want to stay informed.
Please keep us in your prayers as we discern if traveling to Cameroon will be feasible. Also keep the people of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad in your prayer as they live with the constant threat of attacks and kidnappings.