“Some deportees said they were tortured and their property looted in Equatorial Guinea.”
Equatorial Guinea has deported several hundred Cameroonians, some of whom say
they were fleeing terrorist and rebel attacks at home. The government of
Equatorial Guinea says the deportees were economic migrants and is planning 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
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.
Nouhou Bello, the most
senior Cameroon government official in Ocean, the administrative unit where
Campo is located, says President Paul Biya asked him to receive the deported
civilians and make sure they travel to their towns and villages in peace.
Bello says Cameroonians
who have arrived in Campo since Friday have confirmed to government officials
that they were in the neighboring state illegally. He says 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 to return home 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.
insecurity has mounted due to an influx of about 30,000 economic migrants
within the past three years. Equatorial Guinea accused job-seeking youths,
especially from Cameroon and Nigeria, of harassment, theft and armed banditry.
Essomba Innocent is an
economic analyst at the National University of Equatorial Guinea. He says in
January 2020, the country signaled that it did not want illegal economic
migrants in its territory and laid the foundation stone for construction of a
border wall with Cameroon.
Essomba says in June
2020, Equatorial Guinea agreed to pause the construction of the controversial
wall after Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Central African Republic agreed to
voluntarily repatriate their citizens living in Equatorial Guinea illegally. He
says people who are being deported should not ask the government of Equatorial
Guinea for compensation for goods they acquired when their stay was illegal.
Equatorial Guinea is a
tiny central African nation of around 1.5 million people. The International
Monetary Fund reports that the nation took in approximately $45 billion in oil
revenues between 2000 and 2013, catapulting it from one of the world’s poorest
countries to the one with the highest per capita income on the African