Senators from the United States of America have advocated for an extension of protection for Cameroonian asylum seekers. This is through the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for those fleeing the armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.
An 18-month temporary protected status the United States government accorded Cameroon last year expires in December, but the country’s lawmakers want it renewed.
Some 30 members of the United States Senate have called on their government to extend the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for those fleeing the armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.
In a letter addressed to the Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, the senators said the armed conflict in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon has deteriorated.
The US government accorded Cameroon the TPS in June last year due to the conflict expiring on December 7.
“We urge the Department of Homeland Security to issue an 18-month extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status, TPS, for Cameroon, which will expire on December 7, 2023,” the Senators wrote.
“The Department determined that the designation was warranted because of ongoing armed conflict and the extraordinary and temporary country conditions, including violence against civilians, widespread internal displacement, heinous war crimes, and acute shortages of vital necessities that render safe return impossible.”
An estimated 21,000 Cameroonians live in the US, and many of them are running away from armed conflict and the harsh economic realities in the country.
In April 2022, President Joseph Biden’s administration yielded to calls from human rights groups and designated Cameroon for an 18-month temporary protected status that would stretch from June 17, 2022, to December 17, 2023.
The Department of Homeland Security cited “the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists” in the English-speaking Regions.
More than one year later and just two months to the expiration of the TPS, the violence rages on. Instead, the armed conflict seems to have worsened since the TPS was designated.
More Cameroonians are being killed and displaced by the Anglophone conflict, with 3,655 people displaced in July alone, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The United States Senators also acknowledged this fact and argued that deporting Cameroonian asylum seekers would only endanger their lives.
“Deportees from the US are at particular risk of being targeted for actual or alleged opposition to the government, and they have experienced arbitrary detention and other abuses upon return,” the lawmakers argued.
“A TPS extension and re-designation for Cameroon would serve as a key and strategic part of the US government’s commitment to human rights and international stability”
With the persisting armed conflicts on two fronts, that is, in the North West, South West, and Far North, the number of Cameroonians in need of humanitarian assistance has grown since 2022.
The United Nations estimates that 4.7 million people in Cameroon are in need of urgent humanitarian aid, marking a 20 percent increase from 2022. The needs range from food, to shelter, healthcare, education, and psychosocial support.
In the Anglophone Regions, where separatists have been fighting the government since 2017, OCHA says 1.7 million people need humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, 638,421 people from the two Regions are still internally displaced, and 87,228 are living as refugees in Nigeria.
“Due to the heightened risk of armed violence, kidnapping,, and overall crime, the U.S. State Department has issued ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories for six Regions in Cameroon,” the Senators noted.
The North West, South West, and Far North Regions are among the most affected Regions as Cameroon grapples with two armed conflicts and a worsening refugee crisis.
The US Government, in its most recent human rights report, highlighted significant human rights abuses being perpetrated in the English-speaking Regions.