Tuesday, May 02, 2006

10,000 Nigerians Stranded in Morocco

Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Migration and Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs Moremi Soyinka-Onijala has disclosed that about 10,000 Nigerians are currently stranded in Morocco, following their inability to migrate to Spain and other parts of Europe through North African routes.

Soyinka-Onijala spoke to THIS DAY (nigerian magazine), during the on going conference on internally displaced persons in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region taking place in Abuja.

She said the Moroccan government is offended by the growing number of illegal immigrants from Africa, particularly Nigeria, who brave the turbulent Mediterranean ocean to reach Spain but end up in Morocco or Algeria. The current figure includes those that have been identified by the Nigerian embassy in Morocco and the Moroccan authorities, but it is thought that the figure is higher than that. She however added that the Nigerian government is collaborating with the Moroccan authorities to repatriate those already in police custody.

"The Moroccan government wants to send them back, we want to receive them and the President is very concerned. We are doing everything to bring them back. Our embassy rents a place for them to stay pending when we can bring them home", she said.

She also stated that some of the migrants have been in hiding for close to nine years, adding that they surrender themselves to the authorities when they can no longer bear the untold hardship associated with undocumented livelihood in a foreign land, including sleeping under cactus plants in the desert.

Soyinka-Onijala stated that for every ten Nigerians that go through the illegal route, only two survive, adding that "the migrants are also made to pay huge sums of money by human traffickers, sometimes to the tune of $15,000".

At a forum in Morocco recently, Soyinka-Onijala stated that the Nigerian government urged European countries to crack down on smugglers who are mainly from countries on the route to Spain. The human trafficking business, according to her, is increasingly becoming more lucrative than the drugs business.


Post a Comment

<< Home