Austria to train up 1,000 Nigerian failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants before deporting them

AUSTRIA plans to train about 1,000 Nigerians awaiting deportation equipping them with a host of skills before forcefully repatriating them as part of a programme designed to prevent them returning to the country again.


Like many European countries, Austria is clamping down on illegal immigration, rounding up and deporting those who do not have legal status. Thousands of Nigerians have been affected by the scheme as the Austrian government has chartered planes to return them to Nigeria.


Michael Spindelegger, the director-general of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), pointed out that the body tries to equip deportees with skills before sending them back to Nigeria. Speaking in Abuja yesterday at a meeting with foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Mr Spindelegger said that the ICMPD, with its headquarters in Austria, would start the programme with Nigeria as a pilot case before extending it to other nations.


He said that the programme was to prepare the migrants for gainful employment which some Austrian companies were to set up later in Nigeria. He also said that the proposed programme would facilitate the reverse migration of the irregular migrants, who had no likelihood of being given legal residents in Austria.


Mr Spindelegger said: “It is a new idea of how to combine future investment in Nigeria with the return of irregular migrants. A lot of companies are interested in investing in Nigeria because of its market.


“The idea is to train these irregular migrants before repatriating them so that when they come back, they will have something to do instead of becoming liabilities. The idea is also to encourage more Austrian companies to come and invest in Nigeria so that they also can contribute to solving the problem of unemployment and irregular migration.”


He added that there is provision for asylum in Europe but in a situation where an emigrant fails to secure asylum, the person will be deported over the long run. Mr Spindelegger said that although, only few Austrian companies are currently in Nigeria, efforts are being made to convince companies involved in the programme to come and invest in the country.


“For them, there is no chance of remaining in the country because once they are picked, they will not be allowed to take anything but would be brought back to their country empty. There are no fewer than 1,000 Nigerians that are not granted refugees status living in Austria.


“The programme is starting with Nigeria as a pilot, then, we will see what the experience is before extending it to other countries. It is also part of the programme whereby companies can get benefits from the European Union for the investment, which serves as more business security for them,” Mr Spindelegger said.


Mr Onyeama said that the initiative would not only have Nigerians coming back home to contribute to national development but also stood to benefit the country in terms of foreign investors. He added that the present administration had already put in place mechanisms to address irregular migration and promote the concept of reverse migration.


According to Mr Onyeama, Nigeria was in full support of the scheme and would ensure its success, adding that government had made huge investments in social intervention programmes and has a similar partnership scheme with Germany.