Tensions continue to heighten in southern Cameroon’s English speaking regions following the recent deportation of 47 asylum seekers including leaders of the pro-independence movement by Nigeria. According to the new arrivals, the Government in Yaoundé has also reinforced its military presence with deployment of troops, imposition of curfew and restrictions on travel by Anglophone Cameroonians.
These developments continue to trigger population movements toward Nigeria in search of safety and international protection. Government security forces have been repeatedly accused of killing civilians while the secessionists are also accused of complicity in the deaths of more than 10 security personnel since the unilateral declaration of independence on October 1, 2017.
The interim leadership of the pro-independence group has asked the government of President Paul Biya to allow international human rights organisations access to their leaders and members of their community who were deported to Cameroon by Nigeria to prove that they are still alive. The government said the detainees were currently undergoing interrogation and their lawyers would have access to them after the process.
More Cameroonians are arriving at Danare in Boki, Cross River State and Gembu, Taraba State. However, some of the new arrivals are reluctant to be interviewed and registered on grounds that they fear being deported to Cameroon by Nigeria. Other asylum seekers already registered are requesting UNHCR to relocate them to a third country for fear of being returned to Cameroon against their will.
The latest batch of arrivals is mainly from Cameroon’s Kwa-Kwa Mbonge Sub Division in the South-Western Region. Residents fled their homes following clashes between security forces and separatists in the area and accused the military of excesses including arson attacks on their homes.