The Biden administration Friday granted "temporary protected status" to Cameroonian nationals in the United States, allowing them to remain here for up to 18 months without fear of being deported to their violence-torn nation.

Serges Demefack — a Cameroonian community leader and coordinator of the End Detention and Deportation Project for the American Friends Service Committee in Newark — welcomed the move, which comes as conflict in the west-central African nation has led to extensive human rights abuses and thousands of deaths.

“We hope that the administration continues to take these momentous steps to help dismantle the anti-Black sentiment within the immigration system and we encourage similar actions for other Black and brown nations experiencing conflict,” Demefack said in a statement.

An estimated 40,000 Cameroonians live in the U.S. Some 1,375 Cameroon-born residents live in New York City, according to Census data.

The granting of TPS by the Department of Homeland Security will allow Cameroonians to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation for the next 18 months.

The announcement was welcomed by many immigrant rights advocates, who have noted that Ukrainians received similar protections on March 3, just days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, betraying what they said was a double standard. Cameroonians in the U.S. have long sought such protection.

Violence in Cameroon by both separatist groups and government forces led to 4,000 civilian deaths since 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.

“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,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement.

Cameroonians in the U.S. have told human rights groups they fled their country to escape violence, including mass killings, rape and torture. Human Rights Watch says hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the violence.