Cameroon’s Forceful Repatriation of Nigerian Refugees
Since Boko Haram launched its violent campaign in 2009, its reign of terror has spread well beyond Nigeria. It has asserted itself as a regional threat through a growing number of attacks and displaced people throughout the Lake Chad Basin (which comprises parts of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria). Boko Haram’s incursion into Cameroon has called for the country to respond; however, Cameroon’s practice of forcefully deporting Nigerian refugees raises concerns. There are inherent dangers in continuing this practice. Cameroon has provided no evidence that Nigerian asylum seekers or refugees have been involved in any attacks in Cameroon.62 All the while, Boko Haram activity in the country has increased. While Cameroon has a legitimate right to monitor and regulate who is in the country, and Boko Haram is a very real threat, equating Nigerian nationals with extremism is distinctly false and distracts from the real issues. Evidence has thus far indicated the group has had far more success in recruiting Cameroonian nationals – particularly disaffected youth – than it has in infiltrating Nigerian refugee flows. Creating effective responses to the Boko Haram threat in Cameroon requires practical, evidence-based responses that address the root causes of violent extremism in a particular local and national context without violating the rights of refugees in need, or exacerbating the nascent conditions that could worsen violent extremism.