By Isaac Tersoo Agber
As millions of Nigerians migrate to Europe and America in droves every year in search for greener pastures, other Africans from neighbouring countries like Benin, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Chad and the Cameroon see Nigeria as the “Venice” of Africa where they can earn a living. It is estimated that over 3million immigrants are already scouring through the nation’s big cities – Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, etc, for menial jobs and small scale trading, the Head of European Union delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Michel Arrion, made this revelation.
“I always take the example of the number of Nigerian nurses in European
hospitals. There are more Nigerian nurses in European hospitals than in Nigeria. But of course, if they go back (to Europe), if they send back money, that’s very good. “They (Nigerians) should be better trained (in Europe) and come back (to Nigeria) and better serve and provide and deliver social services to their compatriots,” said Arrion.
According to him, there were over 9,000 illegal Nigerian migrants in Europe since 2014, and the figures have been increasing every year. Arrion, in a statement, said that Nigeria was “an important country of origin to regular and irregular migrants to the EU and its member-states.”
Arrion confirmed that many illegal migrants to the EU risk their lives and perish in the Mediterranean Sea.
He said: “In 2014, Nigerians accounted for an estimated 8,700 of the 283,532 irregular migrants entering EU borders, many of who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean. However, majority of Nigerians enter and reside in EU legally and millions of Diaspora Nigerians are residing in the EU. As a regional economic power, Nigeria is also on the receiving end of migration, attracting an estimated three million labour workers from neighbouring countries.
In the first half of 2015, Nigerian citizens ranked ninth of all persons granted international protection in EU’s 28 member states. “Nigerian nationals are the most numerous among non-European victims of trafficking in human beings and they are also the most numerous among traffickers.”
Meanwhile, United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ms. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said about 100,000 Nigerians were currently living outside as refugees in neighbouring countries.
Thomas-Greenfield, who announced this to journalists from across Africa in a tele-press conference, said that Boko Haram attacks had forced more than one million Nigerians out of their homes.
According to her, these people have serious concerns that urgently need to be addressed. “More than a million Nigerians have been forced from their homes. Close to 100,000 Nigerians are living outside of Nigeria as refugees. Thousands of families, ordinary people, have been impacted by Boko Haram. And these people have serious concerns that urgently need to be addressed,” she said.
The US envoy said her government had been working closely with Nigeria and her neighbouring countries in addressing problem of terrorism in the region. Thomas-Linda said there was multifaceted effort in place to deal with security issues as well as the root causes.
The U.S. representative in Africa also said that her government had been working with and providing support for governments in the region through the Multinational Joint Task Force. She said: “We’re also working with governments to look at broad economic development in the regions affected by Boko Haram by encouraging businesses to invest in those areas.
We are also working with the governments to ensure that those who have been victims of Boko Haram receive the assistance that they require to rebuild their lives.” More Nigerian nurses in Europe than in Nigeria