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Report: Over 1,000 Nigerian asylum seekers on the run in Netherlands

Report: Over 1,000 Nigerian asylum seekers on the run in Netherlands
June 12
23:05 2020

The Dutch authorities have expressed serious concern over the “disappearance” of more than 1,000 Nigerian asylum seekers in the country.

While 961 of them went missing in 2019, a total of 128 could not be accounted for in January 2020.

The figures were released in June 2020, as part of a research by Argos, an investigative journalism programme, and the National Research Council (NRC) Handelsblad in collaboration with Lost in Europe, an international organisation of investigative journalists focused on missing and exploited asylum seekers.

According to the report, a significant number of the cases were identified by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA).

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The report states that there has been an upsurge in the number of Nigerians seeking asylum in The Netherlands, with 2,461 persons recorded in 2019.

However, of that figure, while some persons have returned to Nigeria or moved to Italy, “at least 961 disappeared without a trace”.

“Nobody knows where they are and what happened to them,” the report added.

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There is worry that the missing persons may have become victims of human trafficking.

Meanwhile, the house of representatives in the Netherlands has called for an investigation into the disappearance.

Attje Kuiken, a member of parliament, expressed shock over the report, and said Ankie Broekers-Knol, secretary of state, needs to make clarifications on the matter.

“We should be ashamed of it. We cannot allow the Netherlands to play a major role in this and that is now the case,” Kuiken said.

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“It shows that too little police capacity has been released and that international cooperation leaves much to be desired.”

Anne Kuik, another member of parliament, also expressed reservations about the disappearance, stating that there is need to investigate what appears to be cases of trafficking in the country.

“I’m really shocked at how many women have disappeared here and that we are dealing with baby trafficking – also because there was seemingly a warning from Nigeria. What has been done with that warning? Where have these women and babies gone?” Kuik asked.

In her reaction, Bente Becker, said: “It is very horrifying how human traffickers operate and even there seems to be baby trafficking. The more important thing is to stop illegal migratory flows and to prevent human traffickers from misusing asylum shelters for their victims.”

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In November 2019, the Netherlands entered into an agreement with Nigeria to tackle illegal migration.

Speaking on the agreement, the minister for migration in the Netherlands said the country will focus on building capacity and securing its borders.

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“Nigerians have very little chance of being granted asylum here in the Netherlands. Once their application is rejected, they’re out in the Dutch streets, or drifting through Europe,” Broekers-Knol had said.

A statement on the government’s website notes that “people are granted asylum in the Netherlands if they are refugees,” and refugees are described as people who have reason to fear persecution in their countries, “for instance because of their ethnicity or because they belong to a particular social group, for example homosexuals”.

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