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Germany, Sweden, others deport 170 Nigerians in nine months – Report

In a trend of deportations spanning several European countries, no fewer than 170 Nigerians have been deported from Germany, Sweden, Lithuania and others in nine months in 2023, Saturday PUNCH can report.

This is according to a compilation of reports and data sourced from the websites of migration agencies of the respective countries.

In May, four siblings aged between 11 and 17 and their mother were deported alongside 35 others to Nigeria.

The return is part of a growing trend of minors being deported from Germany in recent months.

Between late May and July 4, Germany deported 80 Nigerian migrants, including children battling severe health challenges requiring surgeries.

In the following months, 50 others, comprising 48 males and two females, were deported from Switzerland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Hungary.

This, according to findings, reflects a larger picture of the migration trend and policies enforced across European borders.

Germany, noted for its stringent migration policies, has significantly contributed to this figure. According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, otherwise known as BAMF, stringent evaluations have been taking place in the past few months to process cases of irregular migrants. This includes asylum applications, which now take about eight months of processing time for Nigerian applicants.

In March, the German interior ministry stated that the duration of regular asylum proceedings in Germany increased to more than a year for Nigerians and that it took an average of 7.6 months for a decision to be made by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

According to the ministry, the procedures for people from Nigeria took more than a year, while asylum applicants from Somalia and Ghana would wait for 11 months each for a response.

Similarly, Sweden’s migration agency, Migrationsverket, has indicated a rise in the return of Nigerian nationals as the country tightens its policies on asylum seekers. Lithuania, too, has been actively participating in this effort, as per statements available on the Lithuanian Migration Department’s website, which showed that the measures were not isolated.

In early June, EU interior ministers took steps that rights groups say abandoned the right to asylum for refugees.

Member states agreed that refugees were to be interned in camps at the EU’s external borders in the future, their asylum applications to be decided in a fast-track procedure and then deported to almost any developing country.

The fast-track procedures, which take 12 weeks, have been criticised for a lack of “thoroughness and fairness”.

The report says only refugees from countries with a recognition rate of at least 20 per cent throughout the EU can lodge a claim under regular asylum procedures.

Currently, countries with a recognition rate below 20 per cent include Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, the Executive Director, Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation, Imaobong Ladipo-Sanusi, said if individuals assisted to return to Nigeria voluntarily found themselves struggling to reintegrate into society; how much more persons returned home against their will?

She added, “We don’t work with deportations; we work with returns. Even at that, their mindset is already too distorted. So, there is always a need for counselling, not just counselling on the surface; they need trauma-informed care. And that is what we have been advocating.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but I can talk about what we are doing here. There must be reintegration programmes from the receiving country and the sending countries. It is a step-by-step process. There must be a reintegration plan, training and business planning.

“All the people involved need to understand that we are dealing with human beings. Partnership can be government-to-government and some individual organisations directly work with some CSOs in Nigeria.”

Ladipo-Sanusi emphasised that collaboration between European countries and Nigeria could foster better management of migration flows and possibly prevent the need for such deportations in the first place.

She also suggested a multi-faceted approach to address the issue, involving policy reformation, community engagement and international cooperation.

Her organisation, she said, belongs to a vast network partnering with the International Organisation for Migration, the return, readmission and reintegration group under the purview of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants or Internally Displaced Persons.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Rhoda Iliya, could not be reached for comment as of press time, as calls to her mobile line were not answered.

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