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Minister to discuss refugees’ plight in Nigeria

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Justice Minister John O’Donoghue is to travel to Lagos for talks about the scale of illegal immigrants from Nigeria and to explore ways of dealing with it.

Over 25 percent of the 22,000 asylum seekers who have sought refugee status in Ireland in the last five years have come from Nigeria, arriving via France or Britain.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said that of the 2,086 Nigerian asylum applications determined so far, only 23 have been found to qualify to be allowed stay in the country under the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Most of the successful applications date from 1995-97. Only two applications succeeded in 1998 and there have been none since then.

Earlier this month, O’Donoghue signed the country’s first bilateral readmission treaty on illegal immigrants with Romania. It involves Romanian police being based in Ireland to work with with a recently established immigration police unit that has powers to arrest deportees.

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The Justice spokesman said O’Donoghue would travel to Nigeria "within weeks."

"He will be having discussions about the scale of illegal immigration by Nigerian citizens, the abuse of the asylum application procedures, and what measures can be put in place to deal with it," the spokesman said.

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