Cameroonians living in the United States are being granted Temporary Protected Status by the Department of Homeland Security for 18 months, the department announced.

Only Cameroonians residing in the U.S. as of Thursday will be eligible.

"The United States recognizes the ongoing armed conflict in Cameroon, and we will provide temporary protection to those in need," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday.

"Cameroonian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to the extreme violence perpetrated by government forces and armed separatists, and a rise in attacks led by Boko Haram, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve," he said.

The department designated TPS for Ukraine in early March, a week after Russia began its attacks. The decision sparked criticism toward the Biden administration about citizens of other countries with conflict that were not granted the same treatment. When the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan, it took the U.S. seven months to grant TPS.

DHS says extreme violence and attacks from Boko Haram led to TPS designation

TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks, DHS said.

A country can receive TPS if it is experiencing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary or temporary conditions, according to the U.S. government.

For Cameroon, the department says the designation comes in response to extreme violence between government forces and separatists as well as a significant rise in attacks from Boko Haram, a militant group that first came to the world's attention with the 2014 kidnapping of more than 276 girls in neighboring Nigeria.

"Extreme violence and the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure have led to economic instability, food insecurity, and several hundred thousand displaced Cameroonians without access to schools, hospitals, and other critical services," the department said.

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