US Withdraws From UN Refugees, Migrants Commitment

The United States has withdrawn from a United Nations pact to commit to protect and preserve rights of migrants and refugees.

Donald Trump’s administration said the agreement, known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, was “inconsistent” with its policies.

In September 2016, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a set of commitments that pledged to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

A statement from the US read: “The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration’s immigration principles.

“As a result, President Trump determined that the United States would end its participation in the Compact process that aims to reach international consensus at the UN in 2018.”

The American Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the country would continue its “generosity” in supporting migrants and refugees around the world, but that “our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone.”

“We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with US sovereignty.”

Under Trump and his “America First” policies, the US has withdrawn from several global commitments made under the administration of president Barack Obama, including the Paris climate deal.

More recently, American pulled out of the Paris-based culture and education body, UNESCO, accusing it of “anti-Israel bias.”

ITV

Italy Buries 26 Nigerian Girls Who Drowned At Sea

Twenty six Nigerian girls who died in the Mediterranean while crossing into Italy from Libya, were given a mass funeral and burial.

A Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim imam both said prayers at the simple ceremony in the southern city of Salerno, with 26 wooden coffins laid out on a stone dais. A single white rose was placed on the lid of each. Just two of the women were identified.

A reporter with the Associated Press revealed on Twitter that “In response to those who asked, I did not see any official Nigerian representative at the ceremony today.”

Reactions from the comments thread revealed displeasure by many Nigerians to that revelation.

At the ceremony, “It is very likely that these girls were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation,” said Federico Soda, director UN migration agency IOM for the Mediterranean.

A recent IOM report had estimated that 80 percent of Nigerian girls arriving in Italy by sea might be trafficking victims.

The 26 bodies were retrieved from the sea on Nov. 3 by a Spanish rescue ship, while some 64 people were unaccounted for and feared lost, bringing the total dead to around 90, said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman.

Survivors found on nearby rubber boats said the women were all Nigerian and had left Libya hoping to make it to Italy.

The only two identified were named as Marian Shaka, who was married, and Osato Osaro. Both were pregnant. Some of those who died were believed to have been as young as 14.

Almost 115,000 migrants, mainly African men, have reached Italy so far this year, according to government data released on Friday, against just over 167,000 in the same period last year.

IOM said at least 2,925 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean from Jan 1.-Nov. 5 against 4,302 last year.

What Macron’s Election Means for Africa By Ernest Danjuma Enebi

On Sunday, May 7th France did what majority of the European Union and progressive world had hoped for – they elected 39-year old former Economy Minister, En Marche! candidate, Emmanuel Macron. The run-off election which once again pitted globalism against nationalism; a match-up which had recently seen the UK vote to leave the European Union and the US elect Donald Trump, ended up offering none of the drama it was hyped to, as Macron staved off a last-minute Russian hack to obliterate his controversial populist opponent, Marine LePen of the Front National party, by about 30 percentage points to become the President Elect of France. The result was greeted in Nigeria and across the African continent – much of which still deals heavily with the old colonists, with relief and excitement. While Emmanuel Macrons brief political record offers us little clues on how his administration will deal with the historically testy France, Africa relations, his campaign manifesto, public speeches and comments provide an insight into how he might govern. From Immigration and security, to trade and infrastructure, here’s what the Macron presidency will mean for Africans and Africa.

On Immigration – In what was perhaps the most polarizing issue of the campaign; Marine Le Pen propagated an anti immigration agenda, pledging to halt immigration into France, saying, “We have millions of unemployed and cannot afford any more immigration. Where are they supposed to live? It is not viable.” A view that was similar to President Trumps during the US elections and one propagated by pro-Brexit MP, Nigel Farage, in the UK. Emmanuel Macron offered a starkly contrasting message, committing to maintain the Europe’s pledge to offer asylum to those who seek its protection and to help address the underlying causes of migration — underdevelopment, famines, climatic disorders.

However, he stopped short of an open French border, saying, “The European Union cannot accept on its soil all those who are in search of a better life. In this context, France must take its fair share in the reception of refugees.” While Macrons stance on immigration seems less drastic and more convivial, it offers little change from the status quo, which has sat idly as African migrants are increasingly subject to racial profiling.

On Security – As a founding member of the NATO alliance, France plays a key role in security on the African continent as it maintains military bases in its old colonies. It led the military intervention that toppled Colonel Gadhafi in Libya, and has led or supported counterterrorism operations in Mali, Chad, Cote d’ivoire, Northeast Nigeria and the Central African Republic among others. While Le Pen committed to maintaining an active foreign policy with African countries, she was against interference in local conflicts. Macron on the other hand promised to increase Frances contribution to NATO to fulfill its 2% GDP obligation by 2025. He also vowed to review France’s military bases on the continent and expressed his desire to help build defence capabilities of African nations, so they can be self-reliant.
On Trade – Throughout the campaign, Macron was very supportive of the European Unions trade policies, so it is assumed he will preserve The Economic Partnership Agreement; which is the bedrock of trade between the EU and Africa, fostering partnership between the two regions on Economic and trade cooperation among other things. This stance will most likely mean the continuation of policies, which have starved the continent into submission through tariff hikes, flooding the market with EU produce and restrictions on genetically modified crops.

On Aid and Development – In the ranking compiled by Action Contre La Faim, a development organization that ranked the candidates’ policies on global development, Macron ranked “Tres Bien”. By contrast, Le Pen was unranked because they worried that some of her proposed policies would likely violate international law. According to his spokesperson Jean-Michel Severino, Macrons priorities are on education, health, women’s rights, employment and the development of the private sector in developing countries in sub Saharan Africa understandably with a preference for the francophone countries.

During the campaign, Macron has called for aid to be spent in the poorest countries and on the poorest and most vulnerable people in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no child behind. Thanks to Macron’s victory, we likely won’t see Le Pen’s proposed policy that tied aid to the repatriation of migrants or and a preference for countries that patronized French exports. Macron has committed to increase Frances foreign aid budget to 0.7% of its gross national income by 2030.

While the election of Emmanuel Macron is a much needed reprieve from the demoralizing losses of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trumps victory in the US elections, it offers little hope for positive change as Macrons victory was fueled more by fear of the fringe policies of Marine Le Pen, than any discernible enthusiasm for him. His policies as outlined above suggest a continuation of the status quo. The silver lining is that as a 39-year old, who already acknowledged France’s crimes against humanity in the 1962 Algerian Independence War, he doesn’t appear to carry the baggage of imperialism and will hopefully be honest about France’s destabilizing role on the continent and most importantly, work to stem it.
In a similar piece I wrote in the aftermath of the US elections and its significance for Africa, I called for Africans to come together and strengthen our infrastructure, increase trade with one another, bolster our regional security forces and alliances, and ease immigration within the continent, as a means of limiting our exposure when there’s political uncertainty in the west. Although France did the right thing on this occasion, there is no doubt the nationalist voices in the west are growing and becoming more powerful and so now more than ever, we need to heed the call to reduce our dependence on foreign countries and become more self reliant.

253 Nigerians Repatriated from Libya

No fewer than 253 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya on Tuesday aboard a chartered Airbus A330-200 with registration 5A-LAT operated by Libya Airlines.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the aircraft landed about 6.45pm at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The returnees were made up of of 102 males, 140 females, six children and five infants.

They were brought back by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerian embassy in Libya.

The returnees were received at the Hajj Camp area of the airport by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) , the National Agency for the Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Police.

Also on ground to receive them were officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Addressing newsmen, Dr Onimode Bandele, Director, Search and Rescue, NEMA, said two of the returnees had medical issues.

According to him, one of them was suffering from depression, while the other had severe burns requiring surgical operation.

He said :”Let’s thank God that these ones have returned safely because Libya is not what it used to be.

“As a government, our advice is that young Nigerians should strive to work hard and tap into vast opportunities available in the country instead of seeking greener pastures elsewhere. ”

Bandele said some state governments had initiated various programmes to rehabilitate and reintegrate the returnees back into the society.

He said NEMA would continue to work with IOM to bring back Nigerians willing to return, adding that the programme was continuous.

Speaking to newsmen, the returnee who suffered the severe burns on her face said she arrived Libya in February after making a payment of N300, 000 to her traffickers.

She told newsmen that she suffered the injury while working for her “madam” who only went to dump her at the hospital where she was abandoned.

The returnee, therefore, appealed to the government for assistance to carry out a reconstructive surgery on her face.

NAN reports that a total of 236 Nigerians had in March voluntarily returned from the North African country where they had been stranded enroute Europe.

NAN

Millions of People May Leave Nigeria , Says Alakija

Nigeria’s top humanitarian official has warned that a failure to help millions of Nigerians on the brink of starvation could force huge numbers of people to leave the country, exacerbating the global migrant crisis, Reuters news agency reports.

The devastation wrought by Boko Haram, which has left millions of people in northeast Nigeria on the brink of famine, could exacerbate Europe’s migration crisis if the world fails to act urgently, the country’s chief humanitarian coordinator said.

Nearly five million people in the region are desperately hungry and risk starving to death this year if they do not receive food aid, according to figures from the United Nations.

This could drive even more Nigerians to flee the country and attempt the perilous journey to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, unless the international community ramps up support and funds, said Ayoade Alakija, Nigeria’s humanitarian coordinator.

“With so many people facing famine, this is the wrong time to criticise us and simply say ‘You are the giant of Africa’.

“The world could see a mass exodus from a country of 180 million people if support is not given, and fast … if people facing famine fall into famine,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

While the European Union has been strained by the influx of 1.6 million refugees and migrants between 2014 and 2016, a greater number of people in northeast Nigeria, some 1.8 million, are displaced and unable or unwilling to go home, Alakija added.

“For Nigeria, this is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis of large magnitude. We, and the wider world, were largely unprepared for it,” she said, adding that Nigeria was struggling to respond as it deals with its first recession in 25 years.

Jihadist group Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency to carve out an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has killed at least 20,000 people and forced some two million to flee their homes.

Reuters

Malaysia Gives N/Koreans 7 Day Ultimatum

Authorities in Malaysia are looking for 117 North Koreans who have overstayed their work permits, according to the country’s Immigration Department.

Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, director-general of Malaysia’s Immigration Department said authorities are seeking the North Korean workers.

North Koreans were temporarily barred from leaving Malaysia during a three-week diplomatic row with Pyongyang following the death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

That standoff ended, but it revealed that a significant number of North Koreans lived and worked in Malaysia,

All of the 117 North Koreans wanted by immigration are in the state of Sarawak, Ali said.

It is the only state that employs North Korean workers, the country’s human resource minister said, according to state-run Bernama news agency.

Ali said the workers have been given one week to turn themselves in, and he said his department knows of their whereabouts.

“We will definitely go after them as their work permits have expired, and thus they are considered illegal workers,” he said. “But first we would like to give them or their employers a week’s notice to voluntarily turn them in.”

Ali would not say which companies the men worked for but said they were in the coal and construction industries.

North Koreans have been employed in the Malaysian coal industry in the past.

In 2014, 46 North Koreans were employed at the Selantik coal mine in Sarawak when an explosion hit, killing three people including a North Korean.

The deputy minister of home affairs at the time, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, told reporters the North Koreans were brought in to work via a special arrangement between the Sarawak and North Korean governments because locals would not take the jobs and specialised workers were needed.

Domestic coal is believed to be the biggest source of North Korea’s foreign currency. It accounted for a third of all of Pyongyang’s exports in 2015.

North Korea also sends thousands of workers abroad, and their wages are believed to be worth billions of dollars to the regime, according to a report from the United Nations.

CNN

Nigeria, EU Plan Agreement on Repatriation

Nigeria and European Union (EU) are working to have an agreement that will facilitate the repatriation of Nigerians living illegally in EU countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that the EU also sought to engage with the government in providing vocational training for those who had been repatriated.

The EU for now, he explained was trying to have a collective agreement with Nigeria covering all the EU countries so that there can just be a one-stop-shop and everybody can repatriate Nigerians.

“We are looking to see whether it will not be fairer to just have separate bilateral agreements rather than one omnibus agreement with the EU.

“In fact, the EU wants to engage with us in helping to provide vocational training programmes for Nigerians who have been repatriated so that they do not come back, have nothing to do, have no skills and have no choice but try and go back again.

“So they are also keen to cooperate with us to provide skills development for them.”

The minister noted that the issue of migration had become a priority for most EU countries.

He said it was pertinent to engage with the EU to ensure that the “legal rights of Nigerians, be they irregular or regular migrants, are fully respected”.

Onyeama dismissed claims that some Nigerians were deported from some countries without the knowledge of the Nigerian Government.

He explained that opportunities were given for migrants to exhaust all legal rights open to them before repatriation.

He said this was in line with bilateral agreements on repatriation which Nigeria had signed with some countries.

“The ones from Libya wanted to come home because the conditions in which they were staying were deplorable so it was a question of facilitating their return home.

“Of course, you know that Libya is almost a failed state at the moment so it is not advisable for any Nigerian to be in that country at the moment.’’

With regard to the UK, he said Nigeria had an agreement which stipulates that that country could not deport without Nigeria’s cooperation.

“So, you have to first identify and be sure, we insist, that the person is Nigerian and we insist also that the person has exhausted all their rights.

“At the moment, these things stand; it is not possible for the UK to unilaterally repatriate without our cooperation,” he said.

The minister further said the government was not oblivious of the economic situation in the country and stressed the need for an enabling environment for all citizens.

“The prime responsibility rests with us; we, as a government, have to provide for our citizens and that is what Mr President is trying to do in the restructuring of the economy.”

No fewer than 250 Nigerians have been deported from different European countries since January, including the 50 that were repatriated on Thursday from eight countries for immigration-related offences.

(NAN)

Nigerians Attacked in India

Four Nigerian students have been wounded in India following an attack on them in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in the latest violence against Africans in the country.

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Sharawaj said in a tweet that the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had assured her of an impartial investigation into the “unfortunate incident”.

Indian newspapers have reported that five people have been arrested over the attack in Greater Noida city.

Earlier, more than 100 people protested at a bus junction in the city, demanding that all Africans living in residential neighbourhoods in Greater Noida be asked to leave rented homes immediately, The New India Express newspaper reported.

The protest came after a student died of a suspected drug overdose.

Five Nigerian students were detained over the case, but then released because of a lack of evidence, the newspaper reported.

Some African embassies complained to the Indian government last year about a spate of attacks on students from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo in India.

BBC Africa

U.S. to Ban Laptops and Tablets in Cabins of Some Flights From Mideast

Some airlines in the Middle East said they are moving to comply with orders barring passengers from bringing large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on U.S.-bound flights.

The national carriers of Saudi Arabia and Jordan said they are banning items such as laptops and tablets inside the cabin. Royal Jordanian said on Twitter it has received the instructions from “the concerned U.S. departments.” Saudi Arabian Airlines said the changes will start on Wednesday.

The ban, on devices larger than a mobile phone, affects nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 international airports in cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait City, Istanbul and Cairo, the Associated Press reported, citing a U.S. official it didn’t identify. The indefinite ban would impact nine Middle Eastern airlines, a second official told the AP.

The ban would exclude mobile phones and medical devices, Royal Jordanian said. Cameras, DVD players and electronics games along with tablets and laptops must be carried in checked baggage only starting March 21, the airline said.

Dubai-based Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul carrier, said it hasn’t received “any notification of changes to cabin luggage restrictions on U.S. flights.”

“Emirates will comply with any new operational or regulatory requirements issued by the relevant authorities,” the Dubai-based airline said in an emailed response to questions.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said its policies haven’t changed but “if the guidance is revised, we will ensure our passengers are updated,” according to an emailed statement Tuesday.

Bloomberg

Nigeria Seeks U.S. Immigration Clarity, Advises Against Non-urgent Travel

Nigeria has advised its citizens against any non-urgent travel to the United States until Washington clarifies its immigration policy, after several incidents in which people with valid visas were denied entry, a presidential aide said on Monday.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, said no reasons were given for the cases over recent weeks in which Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas had been denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.

The West African country is not among a group of Muslim-majority countries from which President Donald Trump wants to suspend travel to the United States on security grounds. About half of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim, and half Christian.

Trump is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday to implement the travel ban, after his first attempt in January was blocked in the courts.

Dabiri-Erewa did not make any explicit link to the ban, but said Nigerians without any urgent need should “consider rescheduling their trip until there is clarity on the new immigration policy”.

International demand for travel to the United States over the coming months has flattened out, reflecting uncertainty over Trump’s immigration policy, travel analysis company ForwardKeys said on Monday.

Reuters

Nigerian Consulate Releases Emergency Hotlines as South Africans Protest Against Immigrants

As anti-immigration protests erupt in South Africa, police have been deployed in key cities while Nigerian Consulate has released hotlines for emergency.

In a public notice to all Nigerians in South Africans, the Consulate gave the numbers as 0027 (0) 731049643 and 0027(0) 632115615

Many protesters have been reported to have hit the streets, according to the twitter handle of Newsroom daily.

Reports say that some shops and houses have been torched.

Also Africa Review reports also that the police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up clashes between local South African protesters and migrants in Pretoria on Friday.

The protesters which obtained police permit to carry out their rally staged a march as promised against immigrants.

According to Africa Review, shops and homes owned by foreigners have been looted and torched in recent weeks.

Some of the vexed South Africans alleged that the properties were brothels and drug dens.

Attacks against foreigners have erupted regularly in recent years, fuelled by South Africa’s high unemployment and poverty levels.

Police formed lines to keep apart 500 protesters as as tensions rose between some South Africans and migrants from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Pakistan and elsewhere.

“We are fed up with people bringing drugs to the youth and the crimes that go with it,” said a South African marcher who declined to be named.

As the stand-off continued, Mr Clement Melfort, 26, a migrant from Zimbabwe who had come to see the march told AFP: “We are not afraid of fighting.”

President Jacob Zuma condemned the latest wave of xenophobic unrest, saying that there had been “threats of violence and acts of intimidation and destruction of property directed at non-nationals”.

“Residents in some communities blame non-nationals for the escalating crimes especially drug trafficking,” the presidency said in a statement on Friday.

President Zuma called for South Africans not to blame migrants for the country’s widespread crime problems, but said the government would crack down on drug-dealing and illegal immigrants.

Meanhile, Amb. Bukun-Olu Onemola, Nigeria’s former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, has condemned the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

He described the attacks as “unfortunate and uncalled for.’’

Onemola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, that he was glad that the South African government had intervened and was investigating the matter.

“The renewed attacks on Nigerians are most unfortunate especially as their host South African communities have accused them of being illegal immigrants and responsible for the rise in crime.

“Not all Nigerians there are undocumented, and there are many Nigerians and other foreign nationals there who have legitimate businesses and have contributed to the South African economy.

“It is wrong to assume that they are all illegal immigrants; I am happy that the South African government is intervening and promise to investigate the matter.

“The South African government has promised to take actions by investigating this case and arresting the perpetrators in this incident.

“However, when this investigation is concluded, I think it will be right to have the Nigerians who were unfairly attacked to ask for compensation from the South African government, ’he said.

Onemola stressed the need for the Nigerian and South African governments to develop the habit of contacting each other and exchange visits to volatile areas that host their nationals.

“I don’t know the level of development in these communities that the attacks occurred, but the government should take measures to protect the lives and property of foreigners in these communities.

“Just like in Nigeria and various countries, any community where there is low level of development, enlightenment and engagement, such crisis have the potential of occurring, “he added.

The former envoy noted that such disputes within and between African countries had negative effects on the development and reputation of the African continent as a whole.

He said: “My immediate appeal is that South Africa should do all within its reach to stop the unfortunate incidents as it doesn’t portray a good image of South Africa within and beyond Africa.

“I see this as distraction between the two countries because this could hinder the two countries from pursuing collaborative endeavours that will promote both socio-economic and political developments in Africa.

“The issue of attacking, deceiving, undermining or blackmailing each other and destroying property will not be beneficial to the citizens of both countries and for Africa.

“The government should discourage such actions that can put both parties in such sad situations because such acts prevent growth and development.

“Africa still remains in a very poor state so Nigeria and South Africa should be the arrow heads to lift the continent out of the situation we find ourselves in.

“Both counties have to develop their regions using the abundant natural resources available in both countries and respect each other so that we can trust each other and integrate our regions which will develop Africa.

“We have to bear in mind that these domestic and internal crises and attacks would affect our reputation and how we are treated by nationals of other countries because the international community would be watching.

“As Nigerians we can’t allow ourselves to be called corrupt and disorderly through our actions and expect to get respect in the international community.

“We have to develop ourselves and ensure that we abide by laws wherever we find ourselves because if we stick by this, nobody will disrespect us and call us corrupt.

“We can’t keep saying to ourselves that Nigeria is a corrupt country and expect those words not to have a role in how we are viewed and treated by foreign nationals and international bodies.

“Although, I don’t think that we need any international body to get involved as a third party in settling this matter at this stage and hopefully it won’t come to that.

“I believe this can be resolved between the two parties by the foreign ministers of both countries or even the permanent secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs of both countries.

“I am sure a good discussion between them would go a long way in solving whatever the underlining problem is.

“The last attacks were in 2015 and it has happened again two years after so a dialogue and a constant reminder of these actions is needed.

“This doesn’t just apply to Nigeria and South Africa, but between various African countries in order to promote peace, unity and development in Africa.”

NAN