Life in Europe: the reality for Nigerian irregular migrants – The Migrant Project

Many Nigerians are risking their lives and lose money and livelihood opportunities by attempting to migrate irregularly to Europe. But what is the situation like in European countries? Here, we share key facts every undocumented migrant should know when crossing a European border. This could save your life, time, money and energy.

How can irregular migrants find a job in Europe?

Finding a job in Europe is very different to finding a job in Nigeria. First migrants need a visa.

The employment market is much more formal and everyone must have official papers such as passports, working visas and transcripts in order to find a job. There are special law enforcement agencies, called labour inspectorates, whose job it is to identify illegal workers.

A large number of potential Nigerian migrants lack knowledge on destination country policies and hold unrealistic expectations about support upon arrival. For example, in Seefar’s research 20% of Nigerians interviewed expected to become citizens of their destination country, which is an extreme rarity for West African asylum seekers.

72% of Nigerian potential migrants said that they expected to receive government support in finding a job in their intended destination country. 9 out of 10 expected to find a job in their destination country within four months.

Migrants without papers cannot get a job and governments do not offer any support. Those who work illegally risk getting arrested. Some employers who hire irregular migrants know this and can threaten them with deportation in order to gain control.

The unemployment rate is high in some European countries, particularly for young people.

Countries such as Italy and Greece have similar unemployment rates to Nigeria. Many Europeans cannot find a job and it is significantly harder for migrants who don’t speak the language.

Ever wondered what are the skills one needs to find a job in Europe? The type of jobs available in Europe are very different and require different skills. Qualifications from Nigeria will not necessarily be recognised by employers in Europe. Indeed, migrants often do not have the necessary skills to access jobs in Europe.

The ability to speak and write the language of the destination country is fundamental to being able to operate independently. Reading and writing a language is necessary in order to find a job in most European countries.

About Nigerian asylum seekers in Europe

Some Nigerians apply for asylum. But because Nigeria is not at war and the government is not systematically persecuting citizens, Nigerians are not eligible for asylum. Nigerian applications for asylum have the highest rejection rate of all African nationals arriving in Europe.

In 2016, over 20,000 Nigerians were denied asylum and told to return home because they have no legal right to be in Europe. Germany is planning to repatriate 30,000 Nigerian irregular migrants who were denied asylum.

The cost of living in Europe

The daily costs in Europe, such as accommodation, transport and food, are very high. In many European countries, the average family will spend around 700 US dollars per week to live. In the United Kingdom, the cost of living for a migrant is 589 British pounds per week. These numbers do not differ significantly in other European destination countries.

Migrants who are in Europe illegally have a hard time finding a job and governments do not offer any support. Without a job it is impossible to access housing, buy enough food or save money.

Life on arrival in Italy

Life in Italy can be very difficult for African migrants. Years after arriving some cannot afford much food, let alone rent. One Nigerian migrant who lives in a camp in northern Italy said: “There’s really no jobs for us here, just hardship, pain and suffering.”

Because there is no housing available for irregular migrants, many live in shacks and tents in camps which are not safe and very cold in the winter. In January 2018 one camp caught

on fire and was destroyed. One migrant died and others were injured and lost all their possessions.

Even those who are able to obtain a residence permit often remain unemployed. In a migrant complex in northern Italy for example, 90% of the migrants are unemployed. An African migrant said that he had been in Italy since 2011 but never been able to find a job and that he survives by taking food from the garbage.

It is well known that Nigerian traffickers have connections in the migrant reception centres in Italy. They collect young women from the reception centres and force them into prostitution and take most of the money that they earn. These traffickers are very powerful and dangerous and threaten to harm migrants’ families back home if they do not obey their orders.

More Nigerians now decide to return

European countries are changing their laws and policies toward migrants, forcing an increasing number of irregular migrants to return. Find out more.

A migrant may return home voluntarily. It is a voluntary return if it is an assisted or independent return to the country of origin, transit or another third country based on the free will of the returnee. Several European countries now have voluntary return schemes, which means that they support migrants who choose to return to their country of origin. You may access assistance for voluntary return.

Otherwise, it is a forced return, which means a compulsory return of an individual to the country of origin, transit or a third country on the basis of an administrative or judicial act. Deportation and removals are forms of forced return.

Many Nigerians end up returning home poorer that they were prior to leaving. The good news is, there are new opportunities for Nigerians deciding to stay in or return to Nigeria. These opportunities include employment programmes and support for would-be entrepreneurs. For more information about these promising programmes, read.

Did you find this information useful? Share it with friends and relatives on social media.

Source: https://www.themigrantproject.org/nigeria/life-in-europe loaded 09.04.2021

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