NAIROBI – Diaspora Affairs Principal Secretary Roseline Njogu is set to travel to Germany this month, amid fears of faster deportations of Kenyans, among other nationals, in the European country illegally.
PS Njogu made the announcement through a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday, even as she sought to dispel concerns raised by a Kenyan living in Germany about the deportations.
“Not true. We’ve not negotiated a fast-track deportation agreement. Unhelpful to cause unnecessary alarm,” Njogu responded to Mudge Rulf, founder and CEO of Diaspora Network Hub that provides information on diaspora opportunities.
Rulf had said Kenyan and German governments had negotiated a deportation arrangement, and that Kenyans moving to Germany should take note of the deportation negotiation.
“Kindly have everything well planned because should you fall off the grid, your government has already paved way for your deportation! To Diasporans (sic) who haven’t yet settled in Germany, please prioritise settling because you are on your own!” Rulf said.
Sticking to her position, she cautioned Kenyans in Germany whose status isn’t regularized to do so before April 2024, “when the migration agreement will be final”.
“Please urgently speak to your lawyer. To those moving to Germany, kindly note that should you fall off the grid, as from April 2024, your deportation will be faster thanks to [the] migration agreement. Please, therefore, ensure you plan well in advance so that you don’t get into trouble in Germany,” she said.
InfoMigrants, a news and information site for migrants, had in an article in October last year reported the German government was reportedly in talks with Kenya, Moldova, Georgia, Colombia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan about “migration partnerships with the aim of faster deportations of people without permission to stay in Germany”.
The article reported that Kenya was among countries Germany is in serious talks with on Migration and Mobility Agreements.
A spokesperson for the German Interior federal ministry said the MoUs are an attempt to curb “irregular migration and create more legal pathways to immigrate to Germany”.
As of last year, Germany Interior ministry said negotiations with two Central Asian countries were in progress, having signed MoUs with with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in May and September respectively.
In December 2022, the German-Indian Migration and Mobility Agreement, the first of such MoUs, was signed during Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visit.
A press release following the signing said the current German Government’s coalition agreement provides for the conclusion of comprehensive migration agreements with countries of origin, and that the deal with India would serve as a model for further agreements in the field.
“… our two countries are joining forces to resolutely fight irregular migration and human trafficking. We will facilitate the return of Indian nationals required to leave Germany by providing clear procedures for their identification and return,” Minister Baerbock said.
“The agreement includes provisions to facilitate fair mobility for students and trainees, cultural professionals, journalists, academics and skilled workers who want to take up employment in one of the two countries. A joint working group on migration, return and mobility issues will be set up for implementing the agreement,” it said.
The statement added that the migration and mobility partnership between Germany and India addresses aspects of legal migration as well as return cooperation.
Once known for its open-door policy in 2015, Germany has started looking for avenues to curb irregular migration as the number of migrants soars, with a 78% increase in first-time asylum requests in the first seven months of last year.
Among the targeted are those whose application for asylum has been rejected, illegal refugees and criminals.
A Kenyan working legally in German told DiploBrief that while he had not heard about the deportations, he was aware the German government is now more strict with resident permit applications, and that the number of asylum seekers has shot up.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in October 2023 announced a tougher asylum policy in an interview with Germany’s Spiegel magazine, saying, “We must finally deport on a large scale those who have no right to stay in Germany.”
Scholz said it was unacceptable that deportation procedures often drag on for years.
GERMANY-KENYA MIGRATION WORKSHOP
At the same time, a two-day German-Kenya Migration Policy Workshop was held in Nairobi from Monday, January 29, “exploring opportunities, challenges and strategies for labour migration”.
The Germany Embassy in Kenya and Diaspora Affairs department said the workshop was about skilled labour migration, “providing job opportunities for skilled Kenyans in Germany, where they are in demand”.
In her remarks at the workshop, PS Njogu said her department is committed towards championing the rights, welfare and interests of Kenyans abroad, and that the meeting would have a huge impact in shaping the landscape of labour migration between the two countries.
“Today’s discussions hold particular significance as they delve into the labour migration framework of Germany. Understanding this framework is not just a matter of policy exchange but also a profound effort to ensure the rights and wellbeing of Kenyans seeking work abroad are safeguarded … and for us to understand how best Kenyans can take advantage of these opportunities this new set up brings,” Njogu said.
The workshop happened soon after a visit by Minister Baerbock, who met President William Ruto at State House Sagana, in Nyeri county, on January 25.
While State House did not release much details about the visit, Germany’s support in technical training, MSMEs and regional security, especially the conflict in Sudan, featured in the talks.
In September 2023, Germany’s Commissioner for Migration Agreements Joachim Stamp led a delegation to Kenya and held talks with Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore.
CS Bore said discussions focused on opportunities available for Kenyan workers in Germany, and “fostering safe and orderly labour migration between the two countries”.
She informed the delegation that Kenya had put in place the necessary mechanisms to guarantee regimented labour migration for the benefit of all.
“In fostering safe, ethical and orderly labour migration, my ministry has drafted an agreement that will strengthen our cooperation and a framework for the employment of Kenyan workers in Germany,” she said.
When Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Kenya in May, President Ruto said they discussed in detail employment opportunities for 250,000 professional, skilled and semi-skilled Kenyans in Germany, to meet its huge labour requirements.
“I have also urged Chancellor Scholz to review and ease immigration laws to enable Kenyans find employment in Germany. We have, therefore, agreed to establish a technical team from my office and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour in both countries, to initiate discussions, expeditiously navigate the procedures and formulate an appropriate framework for the export of labour to Germany,” Ruto said at the joint press conference.
The matter was an agenda when Ruto visited Germany in March 2023.
In an attempt to reduce illegal migrants, Stamp has proposed various plans, with one reported by DW being allowing a country a certain quota of legal immigrants from the respective countries, to go to Germany in exchange for them taking back individuals who Germany wishes to repatriate or other nationals whose asylum applications had failed.
Another plan would see people rescued from the Mediterranean returned to North Africa, most likely Tunisia, to have asylum procedures processed there rather than in Italy or Greece, DW reported in October 2023.