A migrant organisation has criticised Germany and Austria for deporting people to Nigeria amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Nigerian media reports, 32 Nigerians were forcibly returned to Nigeria on a flight from Germany last Thursday (12 November).
“It is unfortunate that the German government decided to embark on such a deportation operation especially at a time when Europe is facing serious challenges with increasing COVID-19 infections,” Network Refugees4Refugees said in a press statement. “With Germany identified as a high-risk region and witnessing another partial lockdown that is affecting social and economic activities in the country, such a deportation may contribute to spreading the coronavirus in Nigeria,” the Stuttgart, Germany-based organisation added.
According to the migrant empowerment group, the deportation flight, accompanied by 100 security men and women, departed from Vienna on 12 November, stopping in Dusseldorf where two other deportees joined the plane, before landing in Lagos.
“Affected by deepened economic hardship due to the lockdown measures to curb the pandemic, Nigeria has in the recent months witnessed rowdy electoral campaigns and violent protests. These have caused more vulnerability to the coronavirus. Another lockdown for a country with more than 200 million inhabitants will have severe social-economic consequences for the continent,” Refugees4Refugees noted.
“Germany has, once again, with this recent deportation exposed its arrogant disrespect for asylum-seekers’ right to protect themselves from Covid-19 infection. It also shows the deceptiveness of Germany’s solidarity with the global community to contain the further spread of the coronavirus with a special regard to countries with inadequate healthcare system,” the organisation said.
Quoting Nigerian Immigration Service sources, Nigerian newspapers reported that the repatriation was facilitated by the German Embassy and that all the affected persons were repatriated for various immigration-related offences.
Refugees4Refugees, however, debunked the claim that the deportees had committed crimes. “We are by this report calling to debunk Germany’s false propaganda of presenting deportees as persons who have committed severe criminal offences but rather, these deported persons are only criminalised for refusing to collaborate in facilitating their own deportation,” the organisation added.
“The recent deportation confirms the resumption of deportation flights to Nigeria. Rejected asylum-seekers and persons with precarious legal status in Germany should take note of this situation.”