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Why many Nigerians are leaving the country 

NIGERIA RETURNEE FROM EUROPE
By DAN AMOR
Nigerians are really leaving the country in their millions to other countries. A casual visit to any Nigerian Immigration office or to any of the consular offices of many countries in Nigeria would reveal a rash of attempts by millions of Nigerians to check out of the country. Even many Nigerians who had lived abroad but returned home at a point as a result of the nostalgia for families and homelands, are heading back abroad with ubiquity and constancy. Many have ascribed the unabated migration of Nigerians to the state of the economy while others situate it to the unnerving weight of insecurity in the land. Since Gen. Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May 2015, Nigeria has become a big scam. Nigerians are daily being killed with reckless abandon.
On a global scale, a damning report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees on global statistics on asylum seekers, has shown that Nigeria ranks among other war-torn countries whose nationals are seeking asylum in Europe and other developed countries of the world. The Geneva report placed Iraq on top of the asylum seekers’ list, followed by Somalia, the Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Nigeria, among others. In just six years, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has turned Nigeria to the butt of world jokes. In almost all the forests of the country are bandits and armed Fulani herdsmen who kidnap people for ransom. Politicians (who are now in power) brought them into the country in 2013/2014 to make the country ungovernable for Goodluck Jonathan thinking he would not hand over the power to them. Now, they cannot disarm and send them back. You can build for yourself a throne of bayonet, but can you sit on it?
If political unrest, turmoil, large scale violence, religious intolerance, conflicts and dislocations are the criteria that qualify citizens of a given country to seek asylum elsewhere, then including Nigeria in the list is an understatement. Given the magnitude of killings and pockets of discontents all over Nigeria, the country is supposed to lead the pack. Just how much longer the Nigerian governing elite would persist in willful mis-governance  and perversion of democratic norms remains uncertain. But one thing is sure: disenchantment has peaked among the people of this country and the clouds are thickening. Nigeria is a big joke.
Since 1999, Nigerians have unequivocally expressed their resentment at the several anti-people policies of successive administrations, most especially the current one. To say therefore, that,  given the escalating wave of insecurity in the country, Nigeria is by any means better than any of the war-torn countries amounts to begging the issue. The situation has now been compounded by the growing menace of state sponsored terrorism in some parts of the country where soldiers now occupy streets and homes in the name of Operation Python Dance or Operation Crocodile Smile whereas Fulani herdsmen are kidnapping, raping and killing innocent Nigerians with greatest ease and impunity. In Ogun State, soldiers in uniforms were seen beating Nigerians for rejecting armed Fulani herdsmen into their communities. They call their party the “All Progressives Congress.” But it is the most unprogressive of all the political parties in Nigeria since independence in 1960. They met the pump price of fuel at N86 per litre in May 2015. But the product now sells for N212.60 just within six years in the saddle. Everything about this APC government is dehumanizing for Nigerians.
Asylum seeking and the growing tendency for Nigerians to leave the country in search of greener pastures abroad are simply attempts to escape from some of the harsh and dehumanizing effects of the poor socio-economic conditions in the country. Yet, the solution to the internal crises bedeviling our country does not lie in our experts and other professionals checking out of the country. The demerits of leaving the country far outweigh the merits. Yet, the more reason Nigerians are leaving the country is the wave of kidnappings and killings going on under the watch of the Buhari government. Nigeria is now the story of a perdition in which many are losing and nobody is gaining. We have been scammed into accepting baboons for monkeys.
For instance, it was reported recently that no fewer than ten thousand Nigerians were stranded in Morocco and Algeria following their inability to cross over to Europe, especially Spain. Obviously, the figure excludes those that had died as a result of starvation or in the hands of wild animals in the desert, and perhaps the few who scaled through the proverbial eye of the needle. Besides the hardships on the way, the infernal conditions that the survivors are often subjected to in those countries make it imperative to ask what would propel Nigerians to embark on such fatal adventures. North, south, east and west, home remains the best place to be. Those returnees should therefore develop the mindset to stay and adapt to the condition at home. But would you remain at home to be killed like a rat by bandits and Fulani herdsmen who are killing Nigerians with impunity?
It is indeed shameful that more than 20 years into the democratic dispensation things are so bad in the country that Nigerians are desperate to abandon their fatherland in search of better living conditions even in some less endowed countries. What is apparent is that Nigerians have lost faith in the capacity of their government to create an enabling environment for worthwhile engagement in productive activities as well as self advancement. It is now as though there is no sitting government in the country. You need to see how Buhari as candidate of the APC was on fire on how he would combat insecurity in Nigeria as a retired General of the Nigerian Army. Now, the chips are down and insecurity is worse than he met it. Yet, some bunkum are still saying that even though their best is not good enough, the situation is still better than they met it in 2015. What a big lie! If Nigeria is better now than in 2015 securitywise, why are Nigerians leaving the country?
 The exodus of Nigerians, especially youths, is not only a vote of no confidence in the Nigerian State and its governance but also an open protest against poor leadership and the inability of the authorities to provide minimal economic and social safety nets for the citizenry. In fact, it is apposite that if the Nigerian government had made concrete efforts to invest in physical and social infrastructure, generate and equitably distribute the “dividends” of democracy to all corners of the country, many Nigerians would not have contemplated leaving the country. It is most unfortunate that the most populous nation in Africa perceives its nationals as expendables. Why are Nigerians leaving in droves to even other less endowed countries?
The country has lost legions of its experts and educated elite to other lands. Easily, many Nigerians of varying persuasions have come to believe that their prosperity lies abroad. From athletes, to professors, to medical practitioners, the feeling is one of resignation and of a strong resolve to ply their trades abroad where their services are better appreciated and remunerated. The direct consequence of this is that the country is needlessly losing its human capital to the industrialized or advanced countries of Western Europe and North America and to other high-income nations at the Gulf region of the Middle East and even South Africa, while it is forced at home to engage expatriate personnel for its own critical industries at prohibitive costs. So unfortunate that the Naira which the APC met at N187 to the dollar now exchanges for N500 to the dollar.
Again, the low rates of quality output and reduction in skilled human capital are drawbacks in the drive to attract foreign investments. The current situation in the country cannot be cheering to most Nigerians. Immediate efforts must be made by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to redress the situation by way of improved social and physical infrastructure, curbing the unnerving weight of insecurity threatening lives in the country and enthroning an empowering industrial climate. Nigerians are dying in their country while secondary school students are kidnapped in hundreds and the government keeps promising that it would deal with bandits while defending Fulani herdsmen who are equally killing, maiming and raping Nigerians in their thousands. When will Nigerians stand to defend themselves and stay back at home? North, South, East and West, home remains the best.

READ  IOM opens new facility to promote well-being and protection of conflict-affected women and girls in North-East Nigeria

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Opinions

Quarantine-free travel to resume on 19 July for fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries

 

The government has today (8 July 2021) set out the details to enable people who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine, plus 14 days, to travel to amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return to England, from Monday 19 July. The recommendation for people not to travel to amber list countries will also be removed from 19 July.

The changes will come into force from Monday 19 July at 4am. Those who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK and are returning from amber countries will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, alongside a PCR test on or before day 2 after arrival. They will not have to take a day 8 test or self-isolate. Any positive results will be genomically sequenced to continue to manage the risk from importing variants.

Children under the age of 18 will not have to isolate when returning to England. While the recommendation that people should not travel to amber countries is being removed, children aged 4 and under will continue to be exempt from any travel testing. Children aged 5 to 10 will only need to do a day 2 PCR and 11 to 18 year olds will need to take both a pre-departure test and a day 2 PCR – as is the case for arrivals from green list countries.

The success of our vaccine programme has been aided by those selflessly taking part in clinical trials and those who are part of approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in the UK will therefore be treated as vaccinated.

At this stage, there will be no changes to requirements for those returning from green or red list countries – even when they are fully vaccinated, nor for unvaccinated passengers travelling from amber countries who do not have a valid exemption.

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Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said:

Thanks to our successful vaccine rollout, we’re now able to widen quarantine-free travel to NHS administered fully vaccinated adults and children under the age of 18, and take another step towards fully reopening international travel.

As we continue with the domestic unlocking, it’s only right we get people travelling again – whether that’s for business to help create jobs, overdue holidays or reconnecting family and friends. However, protecting public health still remains our priority and we will act swiftly if action is needed.

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

Vaccinations have severely weakened the link between COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths, building a wall of protection across the country.

As we learn to live with this virus, due to the tremendous progress of the vaccine programme – with more than 3 in 5 people now double jabbed – we can safely take steps to ease restrictions on travel, as we are doing at home. Allowing quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people means they can be reunited with loved ones overseas and we can return to normality as quickly as possible.

The government is taking a phased approach to amending requirements and is already exploring plans to remove quarantine for vaccinated non-UK residents arriving from amber countries later this summer where it is safe to do so. The Test to Release scheme scheme remains an option for non-fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber countries to shorten their quarantine period, by paying for a private test and being released early if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

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Travel continues to be different from usual, and while some restrictions remain in place passengers should expect their experience to be different and may face longer wait times than they are used to – although the government is making every effort to speed up queues safely. We will continue to rollout e-gates over the summer, with many already in operation across airports and more to be added over the coming months.

Carriers will have a critical role in carrying out primary checks on all passengers before boarding, checking people have the right COVID-19 certification documents to ensure we can continue to safeguard against new variants. Anyone not complying with health measures could face a fine, and carriers will be required to ensure proper checks are carried out.

Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade said:

This is a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for. Opening up the market for the rest of the summer, this announcement will provide far greater opportunities to travel, do business and see family and friends, and enable many more of our customers to book with certainty. The summer season essentially starts here.

Airlines look forward to working with government to continue this momentum and further open up the market.

All passengers will still need to complete their passenger locator form, which will include the requirement to declare vaccination status and provide proof of their pre-departure test. Amber arrivals will be required to prove their full vaccination status to carriers before departing, either via the NHS app or via an NHS COVID Pass letter which can be obtained by calling 119 for travelling overseas (which could take 5 days to arrive by post).

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Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:

This is a significant step forward that will be a boost to airports and the local economies that rely on them. Many airports staff will be able to get back to what they do best: supporting businesses to reach customers abroad, enabling people to visit friends and relatives and help people take a well-deserved holiday abroad after a difficult period.

If travelling abroad, you need to take steps to keep safe and prepare in case things change before you go or while you are there. Check the booking terms and conditions on flexibility and refunds because the situation remains fluid. Many travel firms have changed their terms to be fully flexible. Check and subscribe to FCDO travel advice updates to understand the latest entry requirements and COVID-19 rules at their destination – and passengers are advised to check all entry requirements and FCDO travel advice before they book any foreign travel.

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Opinions

IOM releases recommendations to the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union


Slovenia assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2021. Photo: European Union

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has shared its recommendations on migration and mobility with the Slovenian government, which yesterday (01/07) assumed the  Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the second half of 2021 as the world continues to adjust and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In three key recommendations, IOM encourages the Slovenian Presidency to promote the safe resumption of human mobility for economic and social recovery, advance holistic and coordinated responses to return migration and reintegration, and to factor safe and orderly migration into the EU’s green transition to a climate-neutral economy.

“The Slovenian government takes up the Presidency at a time when recovery from the pandemic is progressing but remains uneven, particularly for some countries and with some populations at greater risk of being left behind,” said Ola Henrikson, IOM Regional Director for the EEA, EU and NATO.

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“At the same time, the EU is moving ahead with the European Green Deal while discussions on the new Pact on Migration and Asylum continue,” he said. “This is an opportune moment to factor migration into planning as a vital contributor to resilient economies, environment and public health in the EU, countries of origin and transit.”

IOM therefore encourages the Slovenian Presidency to promote the facilitated resumption of safe human mobility as we emerge from the pandemic to contribute to economic and social recovery in the EU and beyond. As part of this, the Presidency should prioritize digitalization in migration management to resume travel amid COVID-19 while promoting mutually beneficial labour mobility channels that protect migrant workers.

It will be equally important for the EU to ensure adequate and equitable access to health services and vaccination against COVID-19 for all migrants as well as migrant-inclusive policies that help to maximize their prospects for integration into communities and society. Measures to combat xenophobia and discrimination will be crucial to these efforts.

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To ensure that intra-regional migration is safe, orderly and regular, IOM believes that the fight against human trafficking and migrants smuggling should integrate migrant protection and capacity building of border and law enforcement authorities in partner countries.

Return, readmission and reintegration are indispensable parts of a comprehensive approach to migration management for many governments worldwide. To be effective, IOM recommends the Slovenian Presidency to promote efforts to encourage balanced, comprehensive route-based responses which secure solid engagement and partnerships among all countries and actors involved. Coupling return with reintegration measures that respond to the needs of migrants and communities where they return can enhance the opportunities for sustainable development in countries of origin.

Under the Slovenian Presidency, the European Green Deal will continue to top the agenda. IOM is convinced that well-managed migration can support the transition to a climate-neutral economy. In line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Sendai Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and in view of the COP26, IOM encourages the Slovenian Presidency to promote the mainstreaming of migration – in all its forms – into the key policy areas and anticipated measures of the European Green Deal.

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IOM stands ready to continue its support to the Presidency, the EU and its Member States to implement balanced, comprehensive policies and programmes across the entire migration spectrum and along entire migration routes.

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Afghanistan: Addressing child labour through a protection response for undocumented returnees

Child labour is a priority protection concern in Afghanistan with some estimates showing that more than half of children aged 5 to 17 are engaged in work of some kind (AIHRC, 2018). Children in Afghanistan endure some of the worst forms of child labour from being recruited into the armed conflict, to the production of bricks and carpets, as well as in agriculture, mines, and most visibly on the streets as beggars, shoe shiners and porters/vendors.

High rates of poverty, insecurity, displacement, and natural disasters mean sending school-age children out to work is often essential to the survival of families, placing children across Afghanistan at significant risk.

The 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Afghanistan indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation further as loss of livelihoods, coupled with school closures to contain the spread of the virus, likely precipitated increases in child labour.

The economic downturn has seen poverty skyrocket in Afghanistan and, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), almost half the population is now in need of humanitarian support – 18.4 million people – , with 90 per cent of Afghans living below the poverty line (less than USD 2 a day). This poverty, coupled with the upsurge in insecurity since intra-Afghan peace talks began in September 2020, has seen unprecedented numbers of undocumented Afghan migrants crossing the border from Iran.

Between January-May 2021 alone, more than 490,000 Afghans returned – an increase of 65 per cent on the same period in 2020, of which more than half are deportees.

Undocumented returnees often return worse off than before they left, having sold property and assets or borrowed money in order to pay for their passage. 19 per cent of returnees surveyed in a Whole of Afghanistan Assessment (2020) were found to have taken on catastrophic levels of debt predominantly to cover food and healthcare needs.

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The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Protection Monitoring data shows that undocumented returnees increasingly turned to child labour to support their households during the course of the last year (from 19% reported in May-July 2020 to 35% in January 2021). This presents a key protection risk for children – exposing them to physical, sexual and economic exploitation including trafficking, and putting their physical, psychological and emotional development at stake. It constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights and compromises their ability to reach their full potential.

 

Children are often present on the streets of Afghanistan working as shoe shiners. April 2021. Photo: IOM/V. Goodban

Like many fathers across the country, Noorullah* (40) took the tough decision to go abroad for work when he couldn’t make ends meet. For two years, he worked in Iran as a casual labourer in agriculture, picking fruit and sending remittances home to support his family of seven.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Noorullah was deported for not having any legal documentation at a time when lockdowns and movement restrictions meant finding work in Afghanistan was harder than ever. For 11 months, the family survived on casual labour and the charity of neighbours, living in a damaged house without windows or a door, with no electricity or heating source. The one small solar light they had was stolen by robbers.

The casual farm work he had managed to pick up dried up when winter started, and the family slipped more and more into debt, borrowing from neighbours and using credit to get food from the shop.

To cope with this dire situation, Noorullah resorted to taking his children out of school. His teenage son was sent to work as a live-in servant for another household, and his two younger sons started to beg on the streets, collecting plastic and wood to meet the household’s heating and cooking needs.

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The boys had previously been enrolled in the local government school but were forced to stop, joining some 3.7 million (48% of boys and 59% of girls) of all school-age children across Afghanistan who are estimated to be out of school – returnee and internally displaced children even worse off with 55 per cent of boys and 67 per cent of girls out of school (Afghanistan HNO, 2021).

To address protection risks faced by undocumented returnees, IOM’s Protection Programme works in provinces of high returns and opened a new office in Noorullah’s home province of Badakhshan in January 2021. Having received IOM assistance at the border, Noorullah approached the office for support and the Protection Programme caseworker visited him at his home to discuss his situation in depth and draw an action plan that would allow the family to re-enrol the children in school.

To mitigate the protection risks faced by Noorullah and his family, including child labour, the caseworker provided cash assistance enabling them to buy some essentials for their home – a buhari [a traditional wood-fired heater] and fuel for heating, a solar lamp for lighting the home – and enough to pay back their debts. Together with his wife, Noorullah bought enough flour so they could start a small bakery in their home.

“We started our bakery and, with the support from IOM, we can rent a house in the future and possibly extend our business, so we have income and are able to save for any future needs,” said Bahar*, Noorullah’s wife.

Undocumented returnee Noorullah has been able to send his children back to school following support from IOM’s Protection Programme. Badakhshan, April 2021. Photo: IOM/S. Karim​​​​​​​

By reducing the economic vulnerability of the household, the protection risks associated with child labour and diversion from education were averted.

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The support provided by IOM enabled Noorullah and Bahar to send their children back to school, helping to secure their futures. The two youngest boys stopped begging, and Noorullah brought his eldest son back to live with the family.

The parents are relieved that they can support their children’s education and provide them with a good life thanks to the income of their cottage bakery: “I was exhausted; really sick and tired of doing daily wage jobs. Now I’m self-employed, running a bakery and starting a grocery business which was a dream that has turned into a reality, thanks to IOM’s Protection Programme.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous in a multitude of ways, and in a country where educational needs are exceptionally high, the eradication of child labour remains a key priority for Afghans of all ages. By providing comprehensive assistance to undocumented returnees’ households, IOM aims to build their resilience and reduce the likelihood of child labour amongst some of the most vulnerable communities.

* Not their real names.

IOM Afghanistan is supporting undocumented returnees to access vital protection services thanks to EU Humanitarian Aid.

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