from Africa in Transition

Refugees as Terrorists

February 19, 2016

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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In a thoughtful article, the Wall Street Journal notes parallels about popular concern that refugees mask terrorists in Europe, the United States, and Cameroon. U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and many governors and local officials have objected to the resettlement in the United States of Syrian refugees on the grounds that they have not been adequately screened for terrorists. In Europe, there is widespread fear of attacks by self-proclaimed Islamic State  fighters posing as refugees. In Cameroon, there has been a significant inflow of Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been more than forty Boko Haram suicide attacks over the past nine months in Cameroon. Many of the Boko Haram suicide bombers have been women, and there is fear that Nigerian women in Cameroon could use the refugee flow as a disguise.

It is impossible to know how many Nigerians have fled to Cameroon.There is a large refugee camp, Minawao, which holds some 53,000 people, and is growing. As is the case with Kenyan refugee camps housing Somalis, Cameroonian officials are concerned that Minawao is becoming a security risk, even a Boko Haram base. The camp is unfenced and residents come and go freely, particularly at night.

The Wall Street Journal  article also reports that Cameroonian officials gather Nigerians who are not registered, and then deports them to safer parts of Nigeria. There, no longer legally refugees, they become part of the population of two or three million internally displaced Nigerians.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Nigeria

Wars and Conflict

Heads of State and Government

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