The Biden administration on Friday offered Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonians already residing in the U.S. following years of widespread conflict in the country.
“Cameroonian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”
The 18-month designation applies only to Cameroonians already in the U.S. as of Thursday.
Cameroon is facing a multitude of violent conflicts, including a civil war that began in 2017. Armed separatists in the country’s two anglophone regions have been fighting with government forces in a humanitarian crisis that has displaced tens of thousands. In the north, residents face attacks from terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as what Human Rights Watch described as a crackdown on political opposition and dissent from the government.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also cited the instability stemming from the wars.
“Extreme violence and the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure have led to economic instability, food insecurity, and several hundred thousand displaced Cameroonians without access to schools, hospitals, and other critical services,” DHS determined.
Immigration and refugee advocates have spent months lobbying the Biden administration to designate TPS for Cameroon, frustrated by efforts to deport residents back to dangerous conditions.
Human Rights Watch tracked roughly 80 Cameroonians deported back in 2020 after fleeing to the U.S. It found government forces detained or imprisoned at least 39 deported people after their return, and documented 13 cases of those deported later being subjected to torture.
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