Authorities in Equatorial Guinea have deported several hundreds of Cameroonians, calling them economic migrants, even as they say job-seeking Nigerians invade their country to harass their citizens, commit thievery and armed banditry.
Nouhou Bello, the most senior Cameroon government official in Ocean, the administrative unit where Campo is located, on Monday said President Paul Biya asked him to receive the deported Cameroonian civilians and make sure they travel to their towns and villages in peace.
Bello said Cameroonians who have arrived in Campo since Friday have confirmed to government officials that they were in the neighboring state illegally.
According to him, some of the deportees told officials their visas had expired while others acknowledged lacking travel documents when they went to Equatorial Guinea.
Bello called on Cameroonians staying in Equatorial Guinea illegally leave the country or risk being locked up.
Earlier in October, the government of Equatorial Guinea said it would embark on a mass deportation of people living illegally in its territory.
Officials said insecurity has mounted due to an influx of about 30,000 economic migrants within the past three years.
The government of Equatorial Guinea says it plans to deport 7,000 Cameroonians in all by the end of the year.
Scores of Cameroonians applauded Monday while welcoming back at least 200 of their citizens who were deported. But the well-wishers are not happy with Equatorial Guinea’s actions.
Civilians shouted that by deporting Cameroonians, the oil-rich country is being indifferent to people who have rendered services as mechanics, electricians, bricklayers, miners and other types of workers.
Nguenang Rigobert, one of the deported Cameroonians, says he lost his teaching job in Equatorial Guinea. Nguenang says he, like many Cameroonians in Equatorial Guinea, are victims of what he calls the Cameroon government’s lack of interest in the plight of its citizens outside the country.
He says Cameroon should have negotiated for Equatorial Guinea to give Cameroonians more time to acquire resident and work permits.
Nguenang said several dozen of the deported Cameroonians fled their country in part because of its ongoing separatist crisis. Others left because of Boko Haram terrorism in the north.
Some deportees said they were tortured and their property looted in Equatorial Guinea. Others said they spent several nights in detention centers and were freed after agreeing to return to Cameroon unconditionally.
Source: The Heritage Times