EMBASSY OF BELGIUM IN ABUJA: A Mission Of Significance And Salutary Strides

8th March 2024

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Ambassador Pieter Leenknegt Advances Development Commitments & Cooperation: Hosts Top Belgian Official on Immigration And The Africa Working Party Of The Council Of The European Union Delegation To Nigeria In Remarkable Receptions

As the kingdom of Belgium continues to earn and enjoy international accolades of being a State of significance and salutary strides resulting from its evolvements, engagements and exemplary exploits, so also are its formal representations across the world, especially its foreign missions abroad. From good governance, social-economic advancement, defence progress, to humanity improvements and development cooperation, Belgium sterling imprints are increasingly discernible and ineradicable.

Belgium in Nigeria statements and statecraft are also blazing the trail, earning deserving respects around the country. Its core diplomatic representation, the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja is ambitiously expanding on gains achieved over the years due to a solid leadership continuity and enthusiastic team.

During the press briefing of Mr Roosemont at the Belgian Embassy in Abuja

There is therefore no doubt that the Head Of Mission currently steering the ship is a man of vision and vigour with interests and involvements in productive contributions and consolidations. Ambassador Leenknegt is indeed a man of duty and devotions delivering expectedly on the litany of diplomacy and development platforms he’s variously involved in the country. And, proudly too, among colleagues Ambassadors in Nigeria, Ambassador Pieter Leenkgnegt is a celebrated Envoy.     

As duties continually beckon, so also are his responses, apt and advancing. The Office of the Ambassador is a very busy one anywhere in the world and with a huge and prospective country like Nigeria, Ambassadorial duties just got busier daily. Day upon day as duty and delivery expectation mounts, the Belgian Embassy in Nigeria lives up to and surpasses expectations. And, in this wise, the Ambassador recently hosted series of dignitaries and events that are impacting and worth mentioning.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Belgium is a nation that values human lives and livelihoods and goes all the way doing whatever it takes within human reasonability and the law in safe-guarding and preserving them. It frowns and furiously fights against elements and efforts that undermine societal safety, peoples’ decency, dignities and progress And, one of such criminality it does not tolerate in any form is illegal migration and its dangerous and distressing consequences, especially as it affects Nigeria and Africa.

ANIM senior staff member, Mr Adejuwon in talks with Ambassador Leenknegt

Towards combating Illegal Migration, Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons, and strengthening the framework of operations, cooperation mechanism and exchange of ideas  between Nigeria and Belgium, H.E Pieter Leenkgnegt welcomed his counterpart from Brussels, Mr. Freddy Roosemont, Director General of Foreigners’ Office to Nigeria. The Embassy of Belgium in Abuja, characteristically and towards highlighting the importance of this visitation to the nation organized a memorable 2-day event lined with series of activities comprising a book reading session, a film show, press briefings, interactive session and a remarkable reception in Abuja with arrays of dignitaries invited to grace the occasions.

During the DG (of Belgium Migration Office) press Conference held at the Embassy in Abuja, Mr. Roosemont noted that many Nigerians have taken the difficult decisions such as navigating through the deserts and the Mediterranean Sea in quest for greener pasture “Japa” across Europe and one of their major destination country is Belgium. A journey termed “dream of impossibility or a mirage”, which was sold to them by traffickers who would eventually exploit them and expose them to unspeakable, unimaginable and despicable way of living should they ultimately get to their destination country.

“The dream of coming into Belgium and picking money on the street is not real. It is not easy to survive in Europe without a decent job. The dream is fake. Belgium is not the land of milk and honey, nor is Europe”… Roosemont                                                   

According to Pathfinders Justice Initiative “New estimates indicate that there are 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide, 71% of whom are women and girls that represent 99% of those trapped on commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of all Nigerian women trafficked to Europe hails from Edo State with Italy being their number one destination country.”

Mrs. Yamina Guerfi delivering her remarks.

Mr. Roosemont disclosed that Nigeria tops forced prostitution list in Belgium and 50% of Nigerians seeking asylum in Belgium are from Edo state. He highlighted the increase in numbers of asylum seekers stating that “in 2022 no fewer than 362 Nigerian migrants applied for asylum while in 2023 no fewer than 380 of them applied” and, many have come into the country through illegal means.

Roosemont said, “The dream of coming into Belgium and picking money on the street is not real. It is not easy to survive in Europe without a decent job. The dream is fake. Belgium is not the land of milk and honey, nor is Europe. He further added that asylum is determined based on the Geneva Convention and economic motives are not included, and vulnerable women with children are given clemency after through considerations.

Nigeria needs young people to move this great country forward and help build its future …Roosemont

He urged Nigerians not to take on these dangers and to take time to see what is possible in their own country. Also, he warned these-would-be victims not to invest their money on the very risky journey through the Mediterranean nor fill the pockets of human traffickers rather invest in their personal education and build on the realizations of their dreams in Nigeria. For him, a stay in Belgium, through regular channels can be useful complement. You can get an education or continue your study in Belgium and this knowledge can be used in your country. Nigeria needs young people to move this great country forward and help build its future.

Some of the members of EU delegation at the reception

Additionally, a book reading titled: ‘’Black Sisters Street’’ was held at the Ambassador residence to the delight and enlightenment of many. Moreso, an insightful and educating film screening ‘’Eunice Street’’ was held at the Brazilian Theatre in Abuja. The screening of Eunice Street, an acclaimed 2023 Belgian documentary, shot by three Belgian women on the fate of girls trafficked from Nigeria to Belgium. And, especially for this occasion, this Flemish public TV documentary has been subtitled for an English-speaking audience.

After the film show, an engaging and inspiring discourse took place with Lara Richir, one of the three documentary film makers travelling in from Europe, the (equally visiting) Director-General of Belgium’s Foreigners’ Office, Mr. Freddy Roosemont, representatives of two Nigerian NGOs specialized in migration and trafficking issues, and Laurent De Boeck, the IOM Head of Country office Nigeria. Guests in attendance were treated to a nice reception typical of the revered Belgian hospitality.

Similarly, in the course of work, Mr. Ambassador also hosted an important European Delegation to a reception in Abuja. The Africa Working Party Of The Council Of The European Union (COAFR) is the body responsible for the management of EU’s foreign policy towards sub-Saharan Africa, the Africa Union and other sub-re regional organisations.

Mrs Guerfi visit to the Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Yussuf Tuggar accompanied by Ambassadors Isopi and Leenknegt (in Blue Bow Tie).

Nigeria has always enjoyed the presence of high-level EU delegation due to its importance in regional and global affairs. But, towards strengthening existing Nigeria-EU relations, COAFR visit, the first in the country and the 11th in the continent was aimed at taking stock of progresses made by state and non-state actors and forging ways for successful and sustainable partnerships with the EU, and its closest neighbour. The visitation opportunity also afforded friendly and deepened interactions between the Eu Delegation and the Nigerian Stakeholders.

The visiting EU Delegation led by Mrs. Yamina Guerfi, Chair of Africa Working Group (COAFR) Of The Council Of The European Union and accompanied by Ambassador Samuela Isopi, Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria was received in Abuja by the Ambassador of Belgium H. E.  Mr. Pieter Leenknegt, as head of the Belgian rotating EU Council presidency in Nigeria.

Strengthening productive partnerships between Nigeria and EU, extensively interacting with Nigerian stakeholders and helping to rapidly move Nigeria forward in all areas of growth is crucial to COAFR’s and its mission to the country .. Ms.Yamina Guerfi

H.E. Leenknegt during his address at the reception held at his residence in Abuja highlighted the importance of the maiden visit of the Delegation and the gain inherent for the country; the roles and significance of the 13th Belgium rotational Presidency of the European Union (having taken over from Spain); ongoing advancements by the embassy in the country and the tremendous support his leadership and Mission continues to enjoy in Nigeria. He implored everyone at the evening get-together to deeply engage the visiting delegation which comprises of 17 EU member state Diplomats and 6 Eurocrates delegation.

He also noted that the Delegation chose to visit Nigeria among the 46 Sub Saharan African countries they could have visited on their annual tour and expressed his delight and appreciation to the visiting team, who also visited Lagos to further engaged with the State Government, Consuls General of EU Missions, EU business representatives in the state among others, and also the neighbouring country, the Republic of Benin.at the end of their Nigerian Mission.   

Defence Minister Badaru engages in discourse with Heads of the EU delegation

Mrs. Yamina Guerfi, Chair of Africa Working Group (COAFR) of the Council of the European Union on her part also expressed her profound joy in visiting Nigeria with her team. She stated that the partnership between Nigeria (being the biggest economy and African most populous country with so many invaluable potentials) and the European Union and its member state is strategic, pivotal and beneficial, she thus enjoined all stakeholders to continually reinforce the existing cooperation for mutual and rewarding outcomes. She further urged all hands to be on deck to support governments (at all levels) toward providing lasting solutions to the challenges facing the country and attaining a safe, peaceful, prosperous and a rapidly moving forward Nigeria.

The motto of the13th Belgium Presidency of the Europe Council is; Protect, Strengthen and Prepare: Protecting European citizens, strengthening economy in a sustainable way and prepare Europe for the future. Ambassador Leenknegt                                                           

The reception also had many VIPs in attendance, these include Ambassadors of different Foreign Missions, Diplomats, CEOs, media and other stakeholders. The Nigeria Minister for Defence, Honorable Mohammed Badaru Abubakar was present at the event with his team, so also is the Executive Secretary & National Coordinator of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Mr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who graced the reception among other attendees.

ANIM Bureau Head, Mr Taiwo in Abuja talks with NEITI Boss, Mr Ogbonnaya

Salute to Ambassador Leenknegt, Deputy Head of Mission Mrs. Veronique Bernard, and all the wonderful staff of the Belgian Embassy in Abuja for great jobs well done…Keep the torch of progress on!

..Long Live The Kingdom of Belgium!!

 Acclaim Nigeria Magazine was there and covered all the events.











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Written by olumide ogunlade


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