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Rome Reports

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Cameroon refugee admits: Immigration is difficult for refugees, also for host countries

Since the 1990s a civil war has been present in Cameroon between those who speak English in the southwest of the country and the French majority. Additionally, corruption, electoral fraud and problems with Nigeria and Boko Haram have put the country in an almost-permanent war. 

 Thus, residents have fled the country and gone to Europe. Franck is one of them. He left in 2005 when he was no longer free to work as a journalist. 

Refugee from Cameroon

“What is in Cameroon? Well, if you go, there are problems. You can go as you please, but if you ask questions as a journalist or political activist, you can find problems. So those who work as journalists for Europinione or other papers have a lot of trouble. They are arrested or thrown in prison.”

Thus, he escaped from his home country by plane, not even knowing where he was going. He said he came to Italy by chance, after a rough trip. 

Refugee from Cameroon

“The traffickers gave us a fake passport, but I don't know what it was used for because they made us enter the cargo hold, where they put the bags. It was an 8-hour flight and it was so cold inside. We arrived literally frozen.”

His life quickly turned around when he found Centro Astalli. The center welcomes refugees in Rome and help them integrate in society. Franck also had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis through the center. 

Yet, the process of inserting himself into the Italian culture was a bit difficult. 

Refugee from Cameroon

“The first thing is to forget everything you've done in Cameroon. Education, diplomas, graduation, forget it all. Here you do whatever you can find. My wife came here too. We are trying to start again, to re-begin. It's very difficult, I can't deny it. Not only is it difficult for us, but also for Italians who have to put up with our differences.”

Now, he and his wife live just outside of Rome, where he works as an assistant for the elderly, helping them in their daily tasks. While it might be a long way from his work as a journalist in Cameroon, at least he feels free to work as he pleases.