On Wednesday June 8, 562 Nigerien beggars from the streets of Accra landed in Yamal City, Niger on orders of deportation. The beggars had been illegally residing in Ghana. The deportation was not carried out in hostility to Niger as the Nigerien Embassy in Ghana collaborated with the Ghanaian government to make it happen.
In an interview with Accra FM, Abdallah Mohamed Hassan, a spokesperson for the Nigerien embassy said about 1,000 more Nigerien beggars including children had been mobilized and were set to be fully repatriated to their home country.
Hassan deemed this deportation necessary to rid the streets of Accra of the nuisance constituted by the beggars. He also explained that the deportees would be cared for by the Nigerien government and taught some skills to enable them to earn a living.
The repatriation of the beggars is just one step Ghana has taken in order to tighten its immigration control. The Ghanaian government complained about its borders being infiltrated too easily of recent. Most of its immigrants are reportedly from poor Islamic countries in Africa.
Nigerien beggars are also littered across the streets of Nigeria in thousands. They are especially able to blend in in northern Nigeria as they can communicate in Hausa which is the lingua franca in that region. Also, there is the Fulani tribe in northern Nigeria which speaks Fulfulde, one of Niger’s national languages. The country shares a border across several northern Nigerian states, making it easy to cross over.
On the other hand, Nigeriens have to cross Burkina Faso or Benin and then Togo to get to Ghana. Ghana also has a sizeable Hausa population, with over 280,000 people.
Niger borders 7 countries including Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Benin and Mali.
Poverty in Niger
Niger, located in West Africa, is known for its extreme poverty among other things. According to World Bank, over 10 million people – almost half of the population – were living in extreme poverty in Niger in 2021, earning less than $1.9 a day. Over the years, issues related to health, climate, and insecurity have bedeviled Niger’s economy. These are all beside the glaring corruption of Niger’s government.
The country’s economy saw a growth of 5.8% in 2019 which fell to below 1.5% in 2021, a significant regression compared to the initial projection of 5.5%. However, a boom in oil production could cause the economy’s growth to reach as high as 10% if all goes well.
The sometimes poor climate conditions has adverse ramifications on Niger’s agriculture sector which accounts for 40% of its GDP. Over 70% of Niger’s population works in subsistence farming.
According to Concern USA, 20% of Nigeriens cannot afford to meet basic day to day feeding needs. They also reported as of January 2022 that there were 313,000 internally displaced Nigeriens.
The country also has its fair share of illegal occupants. In March 2022, there were reportedly 250,000 refugees, mostly fleeing from conflicts in Nigeria and Mali.