In a recent press conference held in Abuja, Mr. Freddy Roosemont, the Director-General of the Belgian Office for Foreigners, revealed that Nigerians constitute the largest group engaged in forced prostitution in Belgium. Roosemont emphasized that many Nigerians are lured into the country with promises of job placements, only to fall victim to human trafficking networks that coerce them into the sex trade upon arrival.
Addressing the media, Roosemont dispelled the myth of Europe as a land of unlimited opportunities, stating, “The dream is not real; it’s not easy to survive in Europe without a decent job. Belgium is not a land of milk and honey, nor is Europe. This was not the case before, but is even less so now, in a world with many crisis hotspots with severe economic consequences.”
Expressing concern, the Belgian official highlighted a growing trend of Nigerians seeking asylum in Belgium, despite the slim chances of success. He explained that economic motives are not considered valid grounds for asylum, leading to a low recognition rate and minimal chances of obtaining a residence permit. In 2022, 362 Nigerian migrants sought asylum, and this number increased to 380 in 2023, with only a few applications granted.
Roosemont emphasized the harsh consequences of unsuccessful asylum applications, pushing individuals into irregular stay, devoid of social safety nets, and subjected to precarious living conditions. He particularly noted the increased risk of economic exploitation and women being forced into prostitution under such circumstances.
In a plea to potential migrants, Roosemont urged Nigerians to be wary of deceptive promises and discouraged them from embarking on the journey to Europe without proper admission to a university, a job offer from a Belgian company, or a legitimate invitation from a family member for relocation. The stark reality, as outlined by the Belgian official, underscores the need for increased awareness and measures to tackle human trafficking and exploitation affecting Nigerian nationals in Belgium.