How are Nigerians treated in Germany

Germany is planning more deportations to Nigeria

For the federal government, it's simple math: Over 38,000 Nigerians applied for asylum in Germany between January 2016 and August 2019. Chances of success: bad. A large part was rejected, the so-called protection rate is just 6.5 percent. Over 12,000 Nigerians are - as it is called in official German - "required to leave the country". But hardly anyone goes back voluntarily. The consequence from the perspective of the federal government: "The federal government and the states therefore have the common goal of significantly increasing the number of returns to Nigeria," writes the federal government in response to a request from the left parliamentary group that DW has received.

A mere 282 people were deported from Germany to Nigeria between January and August 2019. In the entire previous year there were 195. Many deportations fail because the necessary papers are missing. According to the daily newspaper "Die Welt", 97 percent of all Nigerian asylum seekers who submitted an application in the first half of 2018 did not have any identification documents with them. But no deportation without papers. The Nigerian embassy in Berlin is actually responsible for their exhibition. The federal government has long been dissatisfied with their work.

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2018

"They say that the message is taking too long," said Nigeria's Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in a DW interview in 2018. In the same year, Nigerian newspapers reported that the Chancellor's foreign policy advisor wanted to negotiate with the Nigerian government about a faster return of rejected asylum seekers . The topic was also at the top of the agenda when the Chancellor visited Nigeria in the same year, but without an agreement being known.

Is the Federal Government Unscrupulous?

From the point of view of its critics, the federal government is now putting pressure on it. "In quantitative terms, there are not many deportations to Nigeria. But the deportations run the risk of being carried out with much greater severity," says Karl Kopp from ProAsyl to DW. Left Bundestag member Ulla Jelpke speaks of "unscrupulousness". "Some of these deportations are very brutal with bondage and separation of family members," Jelpke said in an interview with DW.

Last year, deportation flights by charter plane took off 15 times from German airports destined for Nigeria. But the flights are controversial. Again and again, those affected made serious accusations after such deportation flights: Some of the deported stated that they had been handcuffed during the flight, which lasted several hours. Others are said to have been sedated with drugs against their will. Children and parents have been separated from each other.

Germany is increasingly relying on collective deportations - here from Leipzig-Halle to Kabul

The federal government rejects a large part of the allegations. The federal government did not have any information "which would support the assumption that returnees were treated inhumanly during this measure", according to the answer to Jelpke's small question. Family members were not separated. Only individuals who resisted have been handcuffed - for between three and eleven hours. After the takeover by the federal police, no one had been given medication against their will.

Deported people land on the street

There is also criticism of the situation following the arrival of the flights in Nigeria. After landing, the German security forces handed the deportees over to the Nigerian immigration authorities, which checked them again. They are said not to have received any help with onward travel to their hometowns. "The people were simply dropped," complains Rex Osa, a Nigerian refugee activist who claims to support deported migrants in Nigeria. "They had to beg passers-by to lend them cell phones to call their families. Others had to sleep on the street until they found a way to get to their families," Osa told DW. The Federal Government points out that, in principle, the local authorities are responsible after the deportees have returned to their home country.

In the 1990s, 15 rejected asylum seekers from Nigeria lived temporarily in church asylum in Hanover

From the left's point of view, the "Heimat Heimat" program has not had much success so far. It is actually supposed to help returnees gain a foothold again professionally. The aim is to motivate rejected asylum seekers to return home voluntarily. In Nigeria, the federal government is funding three advice centers in Abuja, Benin City and Lagos. They are intended to help returnees and the local population find a job - through advice, training and contacts. The federal government made 1.9 million euros available for the 2019 projects.

Criticism of returnees programs

According to information from the federal government, 8064 people sought advice there in 2019. This is said to have resulted in 2441 jobs. Exactly which one is not communicated. This is exactly what makes Ulla Jelpke doubt: "It puzzles me that the federal government cannot provide any information on whether the jobs are permanent, that is, that people are offered a long-term perspective."

How many of the jobs that are placed really offer long-term prospects is unknown

Refugee activist Rex Osa does not believe that "Perspektive Heimat" will help in the long term: "Some people have even participated in various qualification measures and they are still sitting on the street," he says. Jobs in Nigeria are mostly only available in the informal sector - for example as a hawker - which is hardly enough to survive. Osa: "I know people who are thinking about going back to Europe."