KIOSSI, CAMEROON —
Several hundred people from Central African nations are stranded in southern Cameroon after being expelled from neighboring Equatorial Guinea and Gabon this month.
Equatorial Guinea and Gabon say they are expelling foreigners who do not have proper identification papers.
The majority of those being expelled are economic migrants from around Central Africa. They complain that authorities in those two countries ransacked their homes, seized their money and deposited them on the border at Kiossi.
Some had only just arrived in those countries while others had been living there for years.
Bakari Zhouli, a 45-year old engineer from Chad, says his documents were taken and he is stuck.
He says he is surprised that the government of Equatorial Guinea is chasing out the people who helped to transform many parts of their country from mere foot paths, forests and abandoned cocoa plantations into a developing country. He says he helped transform the capital, Bata, in the 15 years he was there.
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea say they are expelling foreigners who do not have proper identification papers for security reasons, saying some migrants are engaged in illegal mining and criminal activities.
Felix Nguele Nguele, governor of Cameroon's southern region, says the government is investigating.
"We insisted that forces of law and order should have information on who was expelled and why he was expelled. We took an assessment of all the control posts on the borders and equally sent a team to the field to try to sensitize all stakeholders," said Nguele.
Most of the people now stranded in Cameroon said they went to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea looking for work. The oil-producing nations have long been destinations for economic migrants.
Nchama Theodoro is senior adviser to the governor of Woleu-Ntem, one of Equatorial Guinea's nine administrative provinces. He says the global drop in price of oil and other commodities is taking a toll and many companies are having to lay off workers.
He says central African states should be able to provide opportunities for their young people who instead see Equatorial Guinea as the solution to their problems. He says Equatorial Guinea is helping to build Africa’s workforce by allowing people to come and work freely, but that cannot be the only solution to unemployment.
The International Monetary Fund said earlier this month that the rate of economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow to a 16-year low. Central Africa is feeling the slump with countries reporting record increases in debt.
Hundreds of Cameroonians have returned home after being expelled from Gabon.