• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Japa: Cameroon, Niger share top spot for Nigerian migrants with UK, US

Japa: Cameroon, Niger share top spot for Nigerian migrants with UK, US

The United States, The United Kingdom, Cameroon, Niger, and Italy are the most popular choices for Nigerians seeking opportunities abroad, according to a recent report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The 2024 World Migration Report shows that up to 402,186 Nigerians moved to the United States and 205,773 to the United Kingdom. Additionally, over 169,600 Nigerians relocated to Cameroon, 154,739 to Niger, and 103,462 others to Italy.

top countries of destination for NIgerian migrants
From the global migrant stock, the largest corridors are from developing countries, including Nigeria, to larger economies such as the United States, France, the Russian Federation, the United Arad Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. IOM data shows that the United States has been the main country of destination for migrants since 1970.

Since then, the number of foreign-born people residing in the country has more than quadrupled – from less than 12 million in 1970 to close to 51 million in 2019. In 2022, Nigeria ranked ninth among top remittances recipients globally, with $20.13 billion.

During that period, the United States emerged as a foremost remittance issuer to the West African country, positions both countries have held for 14 years.

In Nigeria, diaspora remittances are the second-largest source of foreign exchange inflow, following only crude oil earnings.

Migration across Africa

Despite patterns in mobility from Africa to other developed countries in the west, the IOM report also spotlighted migration trends within the continent.

Figures show that around 21 million Africans live in another African country, a population that has increased since 2015 when around 18 million Africans were estimated to be living outside of their country of origin but within the region.

One of the key levers to this migration rise, especially from Nigeria to neighbours, is the ECOWAS free movement protocol which allows citizens of West African member states the right to enter, reside in and establish economic activities in another member visa-free and for up to 90 days.

Climate and conflict migration

Africa makes up 9 percent of global migrant stock. In 20 years, migrant numbers in Africa increased by 10 million. As of 2000, there were 15.1 million migrants from Africa, but the number increased to 25.4 million in 2020, an increase that can be traced to untamed conflict displacing over 3.6 million people in Nigeria.

In addition to ongoing conflict and insecurity, West and Central Africa is affected by an interplay of other factors pushing citizens away, including climate change and food insecurity.

“Rainfall in the Sahel, for example, has decreased by over 20 per cent since the 1970s, making this part of Africa one of the most prone to droughts. At the same time, parts of the subregion have experienced significant sudden-onset disasters, which have displaced millions of people,” wrote the IOM.

Like previous years, the majority of internal displacements in Africa in 2022 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, where Nigeria had the largest number of internal displacements (2.4 million), due to disasters, its highest in ten years.

According to findings, “The displacements were largely the result of floods between June and November 2022.” In Nigeria, displacemnets are largely due to conflict and violence, which have affected over 3.6 million people in the country.

Troubled waters

Eeach year, tens of thousands of migrants from West and Central Africa undertake highly risky irregular migration or ‘Japa’ journeys, as many try to make their way to Europe.
“Migrant abuses are common on these journeys,” says IOM, “especially along routes between West and Central Africa and North Africa, the Sahara, or during sea crossings in the mediterranean route from North African countries and the Middle East mainly to Italy.

More than 29,000 nationals from West and Central Africa arrived in Europe along these various routes in 2022, with most (58%) pitching tent in Italy. ‘Japa’ is a Yoruba indigenous word meaning “escape.”