Hello everyone. Welcome to this year’s American Independence Day commemoration. I’m Peter Barlerin, U.S. Ambassador.
This year, like so many other diplomatic missions, we are doing a virtual celebration because of an unwelcome guest, COVID-19. If I were with you in person, I’d be wearing a mask, and maintaining two meters separation.
For the last few years, the focus of our work at the U.S. embassy has increasingly been on improving the health of every Cameroonian.
We applaud the government’s historic decision this year to eliminate fees for HIV/AIDS services. – That decision allowed more people to get tested and stay on treatment. Thanks to that decision, and pushed us to triple our assistance. Together, we will control this scourge.
Since 2018, we have saved hundreds of lives in the fight against malaria, particularly among pregnant women and children in the North and Far North Regions.
Concerning COVID-19, the unwelcome guest in any gathering, we are proud to see that the Public Health Emergency Operation Center, that we built here in Yaounde, has been used advisedly.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of State have joined with others to help Cameroon fight this pandemic.
We are also proud to be a leader in helping refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities.
In regards to the conflict in the Northwest and the Southwest, we hope the parties can come together soon to discuss a peaceable solution, because there is no military solution.
We imagine the day when the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers can return to the Northwest and Southwest, as well as to the North and Far North.
All this is possible if Cameroonians come together to find solutions.
Solutions often come from the younger generation. It has been inspiring to meet with U.S. exchange program participants like those benefiting from the Young African Leaders Initiative also known as YALI.
Many of you are aware that after nearly three years in Cameroon, my tenure as Ambassador ends later this month.
I want to thank everyone, starting with President Paul Biya. My gratitude is also extended to members of the government, starting with the Prime Minister, religious leaders, traditional chiefs, academia, members of the party leader and opposition party leaders, NGOs, and the press, for helping me to interpret the complexities of Cameroonian history and culture.
Much is made of the uniqueness of this country. It is true Cameroon is unique, but Cameroon shares many characteristics with other countries. We all have our weaknesses, we all have our deep scars, we all have our great strengths.
I have the confidence that the Cameroonian people will resolve their differences peaceably, continue to develop, and come to flourish.
I would like to thank the deputy chief of mission, Vernelle Trim Fitzpatrick. She will have her work cut out for her, doing two jobs for a while, but i have confidence she will make the United States of America proud, as she always has as she always does.
to the rest of the American and Cameroonian staff: you have been fantastic to work with, and thank you for the confidence you have shown in me.
In bidding a fond farewell to beautiful, diverse Cameroon, I say to my fellow Americans – whether you are here in Yaounde or back in the United States for a while – I hope you continue working for the benefit of the people of Cameroon, and continue working to strengthen U.S. – Cameroonian relations.
A safe and a healthy Fourth of July to you all.
Thank you very much, everyone