President Paul Biya of Cameroon has authorised the release of 125 million FCFA (about US$250,000) to be used for the repatriation of an estimated 630 Cameroonians who are being forcefully expelled from Equatorial Guinea.
The presidential intervention follows forceful and sometimes brutal expulsion of Cameroonians by the Equato-Guinean authorities which began on Oct 20.
The government of Equatorial Guinea says most of those being expelled are living illegally in the country.
But some of the Cameroonians who have since succeeded in arriving home say they had their residential papers but were brutally extracted from their homes and forced to leave the country because of growing xenophobia against Cameroonians in Equatorial Guinea.
“I and my entire family were pulled out of my house and forced into a vehicle by police who abandoned us in a football field. By the time I rushed back to my house, I discovered that all my valuable belongings had been carried away by irate Equato-Guinean crowds changing anti-Cameroon slogans”, Fotso Alphonse who said he had just returned from Equatorial Guinea told HumAngle yesterday Sunday Oct 30 in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital.
A communiqué signed Saturday October 29, 2022 by the Cameroonian ambassador in Equatorial Guinea, Desire Owona Menguele, reveals that the 125 million FCFA would be used in the repatriation of a total of 630 persons drawn from among Cameroonians who have been recently expelled as well as from among some of those who were declared illegal immigrants during a massive expulsion exercise by the Equato-Guinean authorities in November last year.
The mass repatriation exercise is scheduled to begin today, Monday October 31, 2022 with the first 52 Cameroonians, including forty-eight adults and four infants to be transported by Ethiopian Airlines from Malabo. The flight would leave Malabo the Equatorial Guinea capital at 12:30 hours and arrive Douala at 13:25 hours.
Cameroonian consular authorities in Equatorial Guinea say they would assist Cameroonians who wish to remain in the country by facilitating their acquisition of the relevant residential documents.
“For those wishing to remain on Equatorial Guinea territory, the embassy had on Oct 21, forwarded 250 dossiers to the Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation which demanded for the dossiers with a view to regularising their situation”, the Cameroonian ambassador to Equatorial Guinea revealed.
“The mission has solicited for a three-month period of grace from the Equatorial Guinea authorities counting from the date of the delivery of the new biometric Cameroonian passports established by the consular posts of Bata and Malabo to enable their holders to regularise their situation”, Ambassador Desire Owona Menguele said.
The ambassador also revealed that thirty-one Cameroonians remain captives in the Malabo multipurpose sports complex, among whom are twenty-six men and five women.
It should be recalled that Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are the two of the six member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States, popularly known by the French acronym CEMAC, that have been flouting the CEMAC provision for free movement of goods and persons from member countries within the economic zone, by frequently expelling citizens from other member countries on flimsy excuses bordering on xenophobia.