Nigeria has topped the list of illegal immigrants to Europe.
Global attention has been engrossed on the European Union as it struggles to cope with a growing migrant crisis that has overwhelmed key members, redefined internal politics and posed a real threat to EU cohesion.
Whilst many of the migrants have originated from Syria and Afghanistan due to the ongoing wars in that region, hundreds of thousands of people more have also streamed in from Sub-Saharan Africa including Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana and The Gambia. Political unrest, economic instability and general deprivation have driven sub Saharan migrants who arrive in Libya through tortuous desert routes before facing an even more dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean in flimsy, overcrowded vessels to Europe.
Recently, Nigeria has topped the list of African migrants to Europe. Data released by the International Organization for Migration shows that at the end of December 2016, out of 387,739 arrivals to Europe that almost half, 173,000 were from Nigeria. The consequences of all this is that EU nations are now caught between living up to their well espoused principles, which guarantee humane treatment of refugees, especially those fleeing persecution and wars, and avoiding the increased pressure on resources as well as risk of antagonizing voters, who are now increasingly leaning towards nationalist, right wing politics.
Disagreements have also broken out amongst EU members over how to take and share responsibility for the growing numbers of migrants which leaders are trying to resolve. Some of the proposals being put forward include “controlled” migrant processing centers outside of Europe, with North Africa earmarked as a staging post to thwart activities of people-smugglers ferrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa through Libya across the Mediterranean into Europe. However, what would work better in my view is solid EU interventions in migrants’ countries of origin to ensure better conditions and reduce peoples propensity to emigrate. Nigeria of course should be the starting point since it is obvious that if the flow of migrants from that country alone is reduced, the net migration to Europe at least from the West African region would also abate significantly and alleviate the EU current headaches.