Over the past weeks, several Cameroonian asylum seekers have been deported from the United States of America back home to an over four-year-long armed conflict.
To date, the whereabouts of the asylum seekers sent back home have remained unknown and the government has maintained sealed lips over what it intends to do with them.
One of the victims, Pascal (not real name) has in an exclusive chat with Mimi Mefo Info, shared his plight, as well as expressed fears over what will become of them.
The former civil servant, who like many others is behind bars, says ever since they returned home, the process has been a complicated one.
“The day we arrived, they took our statements, asking why we left the country,” he says.
After making his statement, Pascal says he was taken into detention and has since been kept behind bars for no justified reason.
To date, he lives behind bars, in fear of what may become of him, and with little or no hope of ever meeting his family again.
Tough journey to the US
Getting to the US in the first place, Pascal says, was not a bed of roses. After several days of braving the most popular migration trails, he says he found himself in Ecuador where he crossed over into the US.
“I took a month and a week to get to the US,” he explains, stating that the immediate cause of his departure was the razing down of his parents’ home by separatist fighters.
The act alone, he says, was a clear indication that he had become their target after refusing to join their ranks.
“My brothers in the village had joined and were urging me to quit my job to join them back home… It got worse when a friend of mine was shot dead …,” he tells MMI.
“I knew I was not safe and my family too was not safe so I had to leave the country for fear of my life,” he adds.
‘Mission in futility’
After just four months in the US, Pascal says he was sent home. When it was certain he could not stay there, Pascal, still fearing for his life says he planned to cross over to Canada but was interrupted by the border closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I cannot explain why I was deported. The president didn’t want to give us papers so my plan was to cross and go to Canada but unfortunately Canada closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he tells us.
“When I applied for asylum in the US,” he narrates, “They took us to a camp and said we had entered the country clandestinely. They said we entered the US without any visa”.
“I went to court and explained my story but the government attorney said he believed what I was saying was true but I needed to tell my government what to do”.
“I told him it’s Cameroon, you can’t tell the government what to do as a citizen. They said they believed everything and asked me to appeal,” he says.
The judge at the appeal court, Pascal narrates, also beloved his story but said his hands were tied.
“The appeal court said I was not judged under asylum but protection. They said they believed my story but could not grant me asylum and that I should go back and reopen my case”.
A humanitarian organization he says came to his rescue but things got sour before a first move could even be made.
“One morning,” says Pascal, “they just came and said I should pack my things that I was returning home”.
“They took me to Texas, Dallas. I tried to explain to the ICE officer but he said the president had given the order and they could do nothing about it. We fought to stay but they said we must return”.
Immigration officers, he adds, “promised to follow up but we knew they would not. We were sent home…”
The same day of his arrival, Pascal and others were jailed and have since not been released.
Despite spending several months in jail now, Pascal remains uncertain over what will become of him, as he has not even spoken to a lawyer.
Though not sentenced, he is also forced to share the same space with hardened criminals in often very squalid, cramped, and unhealthy conditions, putting his life at risk.
He remains one of several hundred others in detention centres across the country, detained in connection to the over four-year-long war.
Mimi Mefo Info