A former Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations said this week that 602,000 Nigerians migrated to European countries in 2016 – the latest sign that migrants from a broad range of countries are using the European migration crisis as a way to slip into the continent.
Martin Uhomoibhi, who was briefly head of the U.N. Human Rights Council between 2008-09, made the remarks during a visit of the European Union’s Ambassador to Nigeria Michel Arrion, according to Nigeria’s according to Nigeria’s The Guardian. Arrion was visiting Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
During the remarks, Uhomoibhi said 27,000 of those migrants died on the way into Europe – many of whom he said were graduates. He also remarked that Nigeria is not a country being torn apart by war in the same way as some countries in the Middle East.
“You can imagine that trend! We are not at war like Syria or Iraq. Why are we migrating as if there is war?” he asked.
Nigeria is currently conducting a campaign against Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which has conducted attacks in the country.
According to The Guardian, Uhomoibhi said that while he was not against migration abroad, especially for studies: “Our destiny is here. Nobody will help Nigeria except we help ourselves.”
Arrion told Gov. Bagudu that Europe would always welcome legitimate immigrants from Africa because the E.U. was interested in African development, the outlet reported.
Uhomoibhi’s remarks come just over a month after European Parliament President Antonio Tajani warned there could be as many as 30 million migrants heading to Europe in the coming years and advocated “refugee cities” as an answer to the crisis. In his remarks, he also warned about Africa as a potential source of heavy migration.
“Africa is in a dramatic position: The desert eats agricultural land, the terrorist organisation Boko Haram persecutes Christians and moderate Muslims. Nigeria and Niger are in poverty. In Somalia, there is drought and civil war,” he said.
“If we do not manage to solve the central problems in African countries, 10, 20, or even 30 million immigrants will come to the European Union in ten years,” he added.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY