|Discrimination, hate could become real problems in Central Africa-UN|
|Written by Blaise B. Abong-Standard Tribune writer|
|Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:23|
Yaoundé - Inter-ethnic hate, religious intolerance and dislike for foreigners are tensions that could rock Central Africa, UN officials have warned.
With just a few races including negroes, semitic, and pygmies, officials said at the start of a seminar here last 29 September that other forms of hate could stall the region's progress, slacken integration and raise violence.
In 2008, Cameroonians living in Equatorial Guinea accused their hosts of perpetrating hate and xenophobia after thousands were evicted from the country without any diplomatic negotiations.
Local inter-tribal tensions have often escalated into war in different parts of Cameroon, especially the North West region.
"Central Africa is not isolated from the problem of racism," Chris Mburu, interim resident representative for United Nations commission for human rights and democracy in Central Africa, UNCHR.
"The idea of racism may be obscure but other issues like ideologies of superiority often breed hate and violence."
The three day seminar brought together participants from over eight countries in the region.
Among these were civil society groups, government officials and members non profits.
"We are not far from being racists…handicaps like us suffer a lot of hate in the streets," said Gabrielle Ondoa Abah, who is president of an association of underprivileged persons here.
"The goal of this seminar is to think of collective ways and elaborate plans to fight intolerance which is a major source of violence," said Birgit Van Hont, representative of the UNCHR commissioner.
Religious antagonism between Muslims and Christians in Northern Nigeria has often led to deaths and huge material losses.
Van Hont was speaking just a day after close to a hundred people were killed and many more wounded when soldiers shot at marching protesters in Conakry , Guinea .
It is delicate and difficult to talk about this but it is necessary, she said.
Adoum Gargoum, minister delegate at the foreign relations' ministry in charge of the Islamic world opened the seminar.
Cameroon will always uphold laws that condemn discrimination, xenophobia and hate, he said.
The Francophonie was a co-organizer of the conference.
"I expect to get those little ways by which even as individual we can save dangerous situations that result from intolerance, said Phillibert Murekambanze from Burundi.
Newer news items:
Older news items: