By Boris Esono Nwenfor
International Human Rights Organization, Human Rights Watch has called on the UG government to designate Cameroonians in the United States for temporary protected status, which is intended to protect nationals and habitual residents of countries experiencing extraordinary and temporary conditions from being returned to those countries if they are not able to return in safety.
“US authorities should also investigate allegations that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel physically abused Cameroonian asylum seekers to force them to sign documents related to their deportation,” a release from HRW noted.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “The US government should suspend deportations to Cameroon because of the serious threats Cameroonians face to their lives and freedom upon return.”
“In addition to a generalized risk of serious harm because of violence in the Far North, North-West, and South-West regions, deportees to Cameroon also face a risk of torture and ill-treatment because of their real or imputed opposition to the government.”
In October and November of this year, Human Right Watch indicated than more than 90 Cameroonians were deported from the US after seeking asylum, per reports.
Cameroon for the past years has been facing crises in the Far North Region of the country and over the past four years, the Anglophone crisis in the two English-speaking regions of the country. Violence in the North West and South West Regions has displaced tens of thousands of people in the past year, adding to the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes since the start of the violence to neighbouring Nigeria or other parts of the country.
The Islamist armed group Boko Haram has been carrying out daily attacked on civilians, including internally displaced people, with almost daily killings, kidnappings, thefts, and destruction of property, HRW reports.
“Given these conditions, many Cameroonians qualify as refugees under US asylum and international refugee law. Cameroonians in Africa will also qualify under the expanded refugee definition in the 1969 Africa Refugee Convention, which recognizes as refugees those who have fled their country “owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality,” HRW stated.
To Allegrozzi, “Cameroonians fleeing very real danger in their country deserve protection from abuse and a fair assessment of their claims for asylum and related forms of protection in US law.” “The US government should suspend deportations of Cameroonians and ensure that all ICE abuse allegations are properly and impartially investigated.”
According to Human Rights Watch, the two known flights of deportees from the United States to Cameroon, on October 13 and November 11, carried a reported 57 and 37 Cameroonians respectively. “The more than 90 Cameroonians deported by ICE in the first two months of the fiscal year 2021 already exceeds the total number of Cameroonians that ICE deported to Cameroon in fiscal years 2020 (49), 2019 (74) and 2018 (68),” said the Right Organization.