The hazards of illegal migration to Europe should be made clearer to residents of African countries who are thinking of leaving, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Abuja on Friday as her trip to West Africa drew to a close.
“Much of what is said about Europe and about Germany does not match the truth,” the chancellor, who is under domestic pressure over mass migration, said after meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Germany aimed to make clear to potential migrants the dangers when people “leave their country and often put their own lives in danger,” she said.
Migration has been a main theme of Merkel’s three-nation tour, which also took her to Senegal and Ghana.
Work was also needed on legal opportunities for exchange, she said, pointing to some 1,200 Nigerians currently studying in Germany. This number could be raised, Merkel said.
Buhari responded that he was “against any form of illegal migration” that led to migrants exposing themselves to the desert and the Mediterranean.
He noted that some 3,000 Nigerians trapped in Libya had been returned home around six weeks ago. The government would ensure that Nigerians could in future return from Libya.
There are some 8,600 Nigerians living in Germany whose asylum requests have been denied and who are due for deportation. In addition, more than 20,000 Nigerians are awaiting rulings on their appeals against rejection of their applications.
The two leaders discussed the security situation in the country, where the Islamist militia Boko Haram has terrorized people in northern Nigeria. At least 20,000 people have died in the ensuing violence since 2009 and 2.5 million have been displaced.
Earlier on Friday, Merkel met Ivorian Jean-Claude Brou, the president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to discuss economic cooperation in the region.
On the sidelines of the chancellor’s visit, Volkswagen signed a memorandum of intent to gradually establish vehicle assembly in the country, which has a growing population of some 190 million people.
No details were released of the scope of the project between the Nigerian government and Volkswagen Group South Africa. Earlier, VW signed a framework agreement in Accra for vehicle assembly in Ghana.
A central bank agreement on loans for agriculture was also signed in Nigeria.