“You Have A Strong Partner In The United States”

Richard Verma, US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.

You are the United States Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. How much of Cameroon do you know and what brings you to the country now?
I have had good time in Cameroon and I just love the interactions that I have had with the people I have met and what I have seen. I have been looking forward to this trip for a very long time. It’s been too long that we have had a senior person here, but we are also having an incredible team here. We have a significant focus on Central Africa and obviously on Cameroon. I am happy to be a senior official here after a long time because this does not take away the level of focus and interest that we have had. You can see that in the range of areas in which we cooperate whether in health, trade or security, we have really made good progress over the last few years. So, I have got a chance to see and understand more from that meeting with different officials. I wanted to see the important relation firsthand and to look at ways through which we can make it grow even stronger. We want to make sure we create an assistance programme and help support the bilateral relationship in any way that I can.

What assessment can you make of Cameroon-USA relations over the years?
Since 2021, we have invested 500 million US Dollars just in global health security across a range of efforts whether in HIV/AIDS, Malaria and pandemic preparedness. This is an example of a real partnership between CDC, USAID, DOD, our State Department and your government, your researchers and your professionals who are ensuring that we are up and doing what we need to do on research and prevention of those illnesses that impact not only animals, but also those potential viruses that can cross over to the human population and vice versa. When I look at malaria for instance, and the work that we have done, Cameroon is one of the eleven countries that have taken up 70 per cent of the burden on how malaria impacts the global population. So, we want to keep working in that area. We have so many areas of cooperation and that is why I am here.

Cameroon is currently implementing the Universal Health Coverage Scheme. Does the USA have plans to chip in any support? If yes, what form will it take? 
I don’t know about this specific programme, but what I can tell you is that on a health front, it would be hard to think of a country where we have a more robust, diverse and intense set of cooperation than in Cameroon. I mentioned the global health security where we work together, we work on malaria, HIV/AIDS, even on feeding children in schools. I look at what the US Department of Agriculture has done to feed over 110,000 children in 240 schools. We are proud of that. So, health security is a fundamental product of this relationship. We have contributed significantly and we will continue to do so in the years ahead. 

The USA is one of Cameroon’s strategic partners in the fight against insecurity. Your efforts in the Far North, North West and South West Regions have been saluted at the highest level. However, there are still pockets of resistance with accusing fingers still pointed at masterminds some of whom are based abroad, America inclusive. Concretely, what is your government doing so that peace can return to the country?
We are deeply concerned about continued violence in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions. We condemn all attacks against civilians regardless of who commits them. This must be a Cameroonian-led effort to end the crisis and the US stands ready to support the Cameroonian government and people including through continued efforts by the US Department of Justice, for example through charging and prosecuting some members of Diaspora in the US for criminal actions such as extortion or kidnapping  for ransom. We encourage continued and expanded discussions with a broad range of stakeholders including civil society actors and those responsible for human rights violations regardless of whether they are affiliated with security forces or non-State groups. They must be held accountable. We have taken a number of actions on the security front and again, we want to continue to be a strong partner of Cameroon to make sure people are living peacefully. 
Cameroon has also taken some 500,000 refugees and which is very significant. We want to ensure that we are providing support through our international partners to assist those who have arrived here under difficult conditions and continue to have other challenges.

Cameroon and America are partners who do not have the same level of socio-economic development. What are the two governments doing to help bridge this wide gap?
It’s a great question! I think about all the progress we have had. Just last year since the Leader’s Summit, two-way trade with Africa went up by 14 billion dollars and nearly 60 per cent. I mention that because there is an aid component and the humanitarian assistance are quite significant. Again, this is to take care of emergencies. We all aspire for robust societies where people have good jobs and have the skills set to succeed whether you are in the United States or in Cameroon. It is the health issues to make sure people are healthy, it is the feeding issue to make sure people actually have meals and kids when they are in school. There are security issues to make sure the development story can progress. It is the education issues and I am really proud of the exchange programm...



    List is empty.

Lead a Comment

Same category