Bullets flew constantly in her hometown. Her two young children haven’t attended school in two years. She abandoned the shop she owns after soldiers arrived and started shooting. One day she saw the corpses of seven of her neighbors. Now, Pamela Njoke, 38, is among the thousands of people fleeing the English-speaking areas of Cameroon, where separatists are battling to form a new nation and the population is bracing for a surge in violence before a presidential election next month. “People are dying everywhere,” said Ms. Njoke, who waited four hours recently amid a crush of people seeking space on a packed bus to take her and her children, ages 5 and 9, out of Bamenda, her hometown, to the safety of the capital, Yaoundé. “In short, it’s horrible,” she said.
Fighters who want to form a new country called Ambazonia in the Anglophone area of Cameroon have been locked in bloody battles with the military for months, with accusations of horrific violence on both sides. The fighting has claimed an estimated 400 lives and displaced thousands.
The flood of people out of English-speaking regions may be problematic for President Paul Biya, 85, who is seeking re-election in October. Mr. Biya has been president since 1982 and already is notorious for being one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders.