Germany plans to deport more Nigerians this year, according to a new report by the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle or DW. The government says there’re about 12,000 Nigerians in the country whose asylum applications have been rejected and have been asked to leave the country. Moreover, more than 20,000 cases filed by Nigerians are yet to be concluded. Going by the low rate of recognition of asylum claims by Nigerians, about 6.5%, the government reckons that most of them would have to leave the country as well.
Yet, more and more Nigerians are coming to Germany to seek asylum. More than 38,000 Nigerians applied for asylum between January 2016 and August 2019, according to official figures.
“The federal government and the federal states therefore have the common goal of significantly increasing the number of repatriations to Nigeria,” wrote the federal government in response to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left party in the Bundestag, according to the DW report.
Deportations to Nigeria have been difficult because of lack of travel documents; 282 Nigerians were deported on 15 charter flights between January and August 2019 and 195 in the whole of 2018.
According to the daily newspaper “Die Welt“, 97 percent of all Nigerian asylum-seekers who applied in the first half of 2018 did not have any ID documents with them. And deportations cannot take place without papers.
“Numerically, there are not many deportations to Nigeria. But the deportations run the risk of being carried out with much greater harshness,” said Karl Kopp of the refugee support group ProAsyl, in an interview with DW. The Left member of the Bundestag, Ulla Jelpke, speaks of “unscrupulousness”. “These deportations are sometimes very brutal with bondage, with separation from family members,” said Ms Jelpke in the DW interview.
A spokesman for Refugees for Refugees, Rex Osa, told The African Courier that deportees are simply dumped outside the gate of the airport without any arrangement to receive them or give them money for their transport to their various destinations in the country.
The returnees who were repatriated on 19 August narrated to The African Courier’s correspondent in Lagos how they were handcuffed and their feet shackled for the entire duration of the 6-hour flight from Germany to Lagos. Some of them also complained that they were sick and should not have been forcibly returned in their condition. According to the deportees, one of them was seriously ill during the trip and had to be constantly given drugs and injections by the doctors on the flight.
The Federal Government said only individuals who would have resisted were shackled up for between three and eleven hours and that no deportees were given medication against their will.
There are several voluntary return programmes under which rejected asylum-seekers in the country are assisted to go back to their home countries. However, very few Nigerians sign up for such schemes, which critics say do not address the need of the affected.
Over the course of two years, about 15,000 people have been helped to return home via the StarthilfePlus program, one of the available return schemes. The majority of them are non-Africans – 23.8% were helped to return to Iraq with 8% returning to Afghanistan and a little more than 20% to Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Returnees to Iran numbered 7.4%. Very few Nigerians have participated in the programme, which offers a mixture of advice and financial support to those who agree to return home voluntarily.
Click here for the DW report in German