1,060 Nigerians Deported in 2 Months

Over a thousand Nigerians have been deported from various European and African countries in the last two months, Daily Trust investigations have shown. The deportees were mostly expelled from Cameroon, Libya, Italy, South Africa, United Kingdom, Mali, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Hungary and Germany.

The 1,060 Nigerians were deported over immigration-related offences, drug dealing, prostitution and financial crimes, between February 1 and April 6, 2017.

Italy is topping the list of 10 European countries with highest deportation of Nigerians this year, having expelled 110 Nigerians in three batches. The Italian authorities have expelled 33 Nigerians in February 23, 37 in March 8 and 40 in April 4.

It was followed by UK which expelled 64 within the period, 41 in February 1 and 23 in March 31.

Austria expelled 18 in April 6; while Belgium expelled 7 in February 24 and one in April 6; while Germany deported 3 in February 23 and 7 in April 6 and also notified Nigerian authorities of its plans to deport 12,000 Nigerians later.

In April 6 alone, Switzerland expelled 8; Luxembourg and Hungary 6 each; Spain 5; and Sweden 4.

Neighbouring Cameroon is leading African countries with the highest deportation figures of Nigerians in the last two months. The Francophone nation has repatriated 517 Nigerians in one fell swoop in February 23.

It was followed by a conflict-ridden Libya which deported 171 in February 21.

South Africa deported 97 in February 28 after the widespread xenophobic attacks of other African nationals in the country.

Mali also joined the league of African nations deporting Nigerians having expelled 41 in February 30.

About 128 Nigerian perished at Mediterranean sea between March 26 and 28 on their attempt to cross to Europe.

Figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR) said there are more than 61,000 Nigerian refugees currently living at the Minawao camp and a further 20,000 at the Logone-et-Chari camp in Cameroon’s far north region.

The agency said it planned to sign an agreement with Nigeria and Cameroon that would see 85,000 Nigerian refugees voluntarily resettled in their home country.

The deportees were mostly received by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the police.

Nigeria is concerned by the gale of deportation of its citizens, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa told Daily Trust. She said the deportees who left the country years back, were undocumented immigrants.

Dabiri-Erewa said due to terrorism, migration policies of countries around the world are getting tougher. “The United Kingdom has tightened its immigration policy and is deporting undocumented immigrants. Migrants who have been in England for years without proper documentation are being sent back. 35 were returned to Jamaica two weeks ago,” she said.

“Other European countries like Italy and Germany are doing same. Germany is also planning to send back asylum-seekers, whom they say their request may be rejected since Nigeria is not among war countries,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

The presidential aide said the evacuation from Libya was a response by the federal government to the distress calls by Nigerians going through torture for years as irregular migrants, urging those in such situation to seize the opportunity of the evacuation and return home.

The German government, she added, has a support programme for those who choose to return voluntarily.

Dabiri-Erewa, however, warned Nigerians against embarking on perilous journeys to Europe through the Mediterranean. “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is doing everything possible to lay a solid foundation for true progress and development, a foundation long-destroyed,” she said.

Dabiri-Erewa also said talks are underway with the UK to make reasonable provisions for irregular migrants being deported, stressing that irregular migration should be regularized but not treated as a crime.

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Source: Daily Trust

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