The Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Michael Arrion, on Thursday, said there are more Nigerian Nurses in Europe than there are in Nigeria.
Arrion, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja, stated that these health professionals, who seek greener pastures outside of Nigeria, would be better served if they stay in Nigeria and provide health and social services to the country.
While acknowledging that Nigeria was the country of origin of several regular and irregular migrants to the EU, Arrion, however, stated that many of those who migrate to the EU put their lives in danger and often die in the Mediterranean.
He further said that there were more than 9,000 Nigerian migrants living illegally in the EU as at 2004.
He was quoted as saying that: “You give visas to students and they study in Europe and they stay in Europe. No, please go back and develop your country. I think it is very important. We must avoid what we call brain drain.
“I always take the example of the number of Nigerian nurses in European hospitals. There are more Nigerian nurses in European hospitals than in Nigeria. But of course, if they go back (to Europe), if they send back money, that’s very good.
“They (Nigerians) should be better trained (in Europe) and come back (to Nigeria) and better serve and provide and deliver social services to their compatriots,” he said.
“In 2014, Nigerians accounted for an estimated 8,700 out of the 283,532 irregular migrants entering EU borders, many of whom risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean.
“However, majority of Nigerians enter and reside in EU legally and millions of Diaspora Nigerians are residing in the EU.
“As a regional economic power, Nigeria is also on the receiving end of migration, attracting an estimated three million labour workers from neighbouring countries.
“In the first half of 2015, Nigerian citizens ranked ninth of all persons granted international protection in EU’s 28 member states.
“Nigerian nationals are the most numerous among non-European victims of trafficking in human beings and they are also the most numerous among traffickers,” he said.