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10,000 Foreigners Seeking Asylum In Nigeria – FG

No fewer than 10,000 foreigners are currently seeking asylum in Nigeria, the Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, has disclosed.

She disclosed this while speaking at a two-day workshop on “Strengthening the capacity of NCFRMI case officers on Nationality screening for asylum seekers” in Keffi on Wednesday.

“We have 10,000 asylum seekers. The asylum seekers are undergoing the process of either achieving refugee status and once they are declined, they will have to go back,” she said.

She said some of them could be declined asylum when they don’t fulfill the specifications of the law, adding that: “They must be genuinely non-Nigerians who are fleeing from persecution.”

The NCFRMI boss also disclosed that Nigeria is currently hosting about 100,000 refugees.

“We have almost 100,000 registered refugees in Nigeria, they are actually 96,800. But you know all these numbers increase daily. So, we don’t have a definite number because of the way and manner in which these registrations happen,” she added.

Earlier in her welcome address, she said the Thematic Group Discussion on nationality screening for refugees provides an opportunity for Refugee Status Determination (RSD) officers and litigation officers from various offices to interact with experts and practitioners on nationality, with a view to deepening officers’ knowledge of the subject, thereby enhancing the accuracy of nationality screening for asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria.

“In Nigeria, a number of asylum seekers, especially from neighboring and nearby countries such as Cameroon and Central Africa, with whom Nigeria shares common boundaries and or ethnic and cultural ties and high incidents of inter-marriages and cross border movements, present cases with complex nationality scenarios.

“Some of the asylum seekers have Nigerian parents, grand or great grandparents, spouses or children. Establishing the nationality of claimants with such ties may not be easy for RSD and litigation officers, the NCFRMI Federal Commissioner said.

On her part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Senior Protection Officer, Mwihaki Kinyanjui, said the nationality questions presented by some of the asylum seekers are knotty, requiring guidance from experts in the field of nationality.

She said some asylum applicants have Nigerian ancestry that may entitle them to Nigerian citizenship and may require regularising their status instead of seeking asylum.

Kinyanjui added that such applicants are considered not in need of international protection as they may be able to acquire a stronger status under national laws.

She however said the workshop would help to develop guidelines for case officers who are faced with complex nationality questions.

The UNHCR’s Senior Protection Officer said 28 officers comprising RSD and litigation officers were drawn from NCFRMI offices in Abuja, Adikpo, Calabar, Gembu, Ogoja, Oron, Lagos, Kano, Takum and Yola are participating in the training exercise.


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