As improvement in the Nigerian economy seems precarious, a recent figure released by the the European Union (EU) shows that 22, 500 illegal migrants from Nigeria crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September 2016 against 23, 000 recorded throughout 2015.
The deputy head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Young, who disclosed this in Abuja at a seminar organised for Diplomatic and Foreign Affairs Correspondents, expressed concern that the number of Nigerians taking dangerous adventure through the Mediterranean to Europe within nine months in 2016 was higher than those who did in 12 months in 2015.
He said there had been huge increase in migrants crossing border without the right travel document to Europe from all over the world.
“In 2014 the number of people travelling irregularly into Europe clinched 280,000 people; in 2015 it rose to 1.8 million in 2015.
“From January to September 2016 the number is about 420,000; we are expecting that the number will rise to 800,000 before the end of the year.
“Within this number people coming people coming from Nigeria in 2012 was 800, in 2013 the number was 2,900; in 2014 the number was 8,700; in 2015 the number was 23,000. And between January and September 2016 the number is 22, 500,” he said.
While expressing worry that all these people were passing to Italy through boat on Mediterranean he said that in 2016 3,700 people have drown in Mediterranean Sea, one in 50 people will drown.
He however said that the EU had put in place measures to address illegal migrants from Nigeria which he said include the three ‘R’ policies of return, re-admission and reintegration for the illegal migrants.
However, he said there was an agreement that the illegal migrants be sent back home and be empowered with vocational skills that could enhance their living in Nigeria, but the training would be done in Nigeria.
“The second thing we are trying to do is tackling the smuggling routes, this is a complex issue.
“We are trying to put in place some level of collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service, with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to tackle this issue.
He stressed that if the immigration issue was not addressed it might longer impact on the EU-Nigerian relationship.
He therefore urged Nigeria to grow its economy and address poverty so as to address the root cause of illegal migrants.
SOURCE: VANGUARD NEWSPAPER