US sending over 50 asylum-seeking Cameroonian back home even though whereabout of 81 previously deported remains unknown

 By Amos Fofung 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) escorted a flight with approximately 100 African asylum seekers to their home countries, where they could face immediate arrest and death. (photo: immigrationimpact)

Exactly one month since the Trump administration deported some 80 Cameroonians who were seeking asylum in the United States, 48 more are set to be deported today despite streets protest, pleas and warnings from rights movements, and US congress members.

Those campaigning against the deportation of asylum-seeking Cameroonians are stating that the country currently ruled by 87-yaer-old Paul Biya has a track record of maltreating, detaining and assassinating  United States and handed to Cameroon government officials, their exact location remains unknown. 

The eighty-one previous deportees were dropped off at the Douala international airport into the waiting hands of Littoral Governor, Samuel Ivaha Diboua, accompanied by armed-to-the-teeth forces of law and order.

Pan African Visions has it on very good authority that most of the Cameroonians repatriated by the US government are escapees civil servants among them teachers, medical doctors, and even soldiers who had defected from the army. The returnees, this reporter confirmed, also include supposed supporters of Cameroon’s separatist movement who fled into America with hopes of seeking political asylum.

Since the deportation on October 14, 2020, no one has been able to pinpoint the exact location of the deportees after they were received at the airport with long coaches and dozens of security operatives. 

Many fear the government of Cameroon might have ferried the deportees into police custody – and will do the exact same thing to this set.

The deportations, we gathered, is just starting as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security goes through its deportation list.

Rights group, Amnesty International, in a statement, said it was worried about the fate of the immigrants once they returned to Cameroon.

Its fear, the body stated, was due to Cameroon’s crises including the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions and the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North region of the country.

“Given the current conditions in the country, it is extremely likely that anyone who is returned to Cameroon will face a high risk of being detained, beaten, disappeared, tortured, or possibly even killed,” Amnesty International USA’s deputy director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Adotei Akwei, opined. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as another issue, the deputy director explained that the Cameroon community in the US was willing to receive and cater for the immigrants.

The United States of America, Adotei added, “… has both a legal and a moral imperative to welcome those fleeing conflict and persecution to the country: Cameroonians have established vibrant and thriving communities in the United States and people in this country are eager to welcome their new neighbors to safety”.

A handful of US congress members hold a similar view to that of Amnesty International. Senator Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Senator Karen Bass of California expressed their discontent with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE on Tuesday.

In a letter, they were categorical that more needs to be done on the part of the US to respect refugees and asylum seekers. They went ahead to shed more light on more Cameroonians waiting to be deported by the Trump administration “…it is unclear whether the travel documents for the 200 Cameroonians slated for removal are similarly affected, these are serious allegations and must be investigated thoroughly…”

“… We urge you to halt the removal of Cameroonians until a fair, thorough, and transparent investigation into the allegations outlined in this very troubling complaint is complete,” Bennie Thompson and Karen Bass added.

In another letter to ICE, Ilhan Omar, Cedric L. Richmond, and Joaquin Castro, all Members of US Congress, reiterated the need for their government to give the immigrants a listening ear. The plight of Cameroonian immigrants they explained is not limited to repatriation, but also poor treatment under ICE detention.

Despite the pressure, the US government pulled on with the deportation.

Media organs cite Bryan Cox, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stating that the agency does not make comments on its ongoing operations, including deportations until they are completed.

“ICE is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody … ICE provides safe, humane, and appropriate conditions of confinement for individuals detained in its custody,” he said Tuesday

Note that, the plan that carried Cameroonians also included some Congolese where were equally sent packing by the Trump administration.

Upon arrival, the deportees were packed in a guarded hall at the Douala airport and tested for covid-19. This was the last time the deportees were seen in public.

The US is believed to have deported the immigrants from Cameroon and Congo for lack of adequate paperwork justifying their claims and for illegally entering the US.

The immigrants, like many others, are understood to have gotten into the US through Mexico after passing through the dreaded Darién Gap in South America, a tedious journey few ever get to make successfully. Upon arrival, some are said to have expressed their support for the separatist cause in the North West and South West regions, citing them as the reason why they left and returning would be deadly for them.

Since receiving the deportees, the Cameroon government has however made no official statement over what will become of them or their exact location giving rise to conspiracy theories. 

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