Lagos— The United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, yesterday, that about 100,000 Nigerians were currently living outside  as refugees in neighbouring countries.

benue-refugeeThis came on a day the Head of European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr Michel Arrion, also said there were more Nigerian nurses in Europe than in Nigeria.

Thomas-Greenfield, who announced this to journalists from across Africa in a tele-press conference, said that Boko Haram attacks had forced more than one million Nigerians out of their homes.

According to her, these people have serious concerns that urgently need to be addressed.

“More than a million Nigerians have been forced from their homes. Close to 100,000 Nigerians are living outside of Nigeria as refugees.  Thousands of families, ordinary people, have been impacted by Boko Haram. And these people have serious concerns that urgently need to be addressed,” she said.

The US envoy said her government had been working closely with Nigeria and her neighbouring countries in addressing problem of terrorism in the region.

Thomas-Linda said there was multifaceted effort in place to deal with security issues as well as the root causes.

The U.S. representative in Africa also said that her government had been working with and providing support for governments in the region through the Multinational Joint Task Force.

She said: “We’re also working with governments to look at broad economic development in the regions affected by Boko Haram by encouraging businesses to invest in those areas. We are also working with the governments to ensure that those who have been victims of Boko Haram receive the assistance that they require to rebuild their lives.”

More Nigerian nurses in Europe than in Nigeria

Meanwhile, Mr Michel Arrion, the Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, has said there were more Nigerian nurses in Europe than in Nigeria.

Arrion told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, yesterday, that the health professionals would better serve to provide and deliver social services to Nigeria.

He said that a situation where some Nigerians travel to European countries and remained to work was not in the interest of the country.

He said: “You give visas to students and they study in Europe and stay in Europe. No, please go back and develop your country. I think it is very important. We must avoid what we call brain drain.

“I always take the example of the number of Nigerian nurses in European hospitals. There are more Nigerian nurses in European hospitals than in Nigeria. But of course, if they go back (to Europe), if they send back money, that’s very good.

“They (Nigerians) should be better trained (in Europe) and come back (to Nigeria) and better serve and provide and deliver social services to their compatriots.”

9,000 Nigerian illegal migrants in Europe

Earlier, Arrion, in a statement said that Nigeria was an important country of origin of regular and irregular migration to the EU and its member-states.

According to him, many of them risk their lives and perish in the Mediterranean. The EU official explained that there were almost 9,000 Nigerian illegal migrants in Europe in 2014.

He said: “In 2014, Nigerians accounted for an estimated 8,700 of the 283,532 irregular migrants entering EU borders, many of who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean.

“However, majority of Nigerians enter and reside in EU legally and millions of Diaspora Nigerians are residing in the EU.

“As a regional economic power, Nigeria is also on the receiving end of migration, attracting an estimated three million labour workers from neighbouring countries. In the first half of 2015, Nigerian citizens ranked ninth of all persons granted international protection in EU’s 28 member states.

“Nigerian nationals are the most numerous among non-European victims of trafficking in human beings and they are also the most numerous among traffickers.”

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