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Nigeria: Politics and Government

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on the abduction of a German construction worker in the Niger delta; how many UK citizens are (a) working and (b) resident in the Niger delta; what assessment his Department has made of the security situation in the Niger delta since 2006; and if he will make a statement. (193019)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) received reports that a German national was kidnapped approximately 30 km west of Port Harcourt on 4 March 2008. He was taken into creeks in the Niger delta but was released 12 hours later into state security service custody. Three members of his escort team were killed during the abduction attack. Currently 803 British nationals are registered with our high commission in Abuja as residing in the Niger delta (Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states), Most of these residents work in the oil industry. Registration with our high commission is voluntary, though the high commission has an ongoing strategy to encourage UK nationals to register.

The abduction of the German national on 4 March 2008 was the first kidnap of an expatriate in the Niger delta since 21 October 2007. Since January 2006, however, 36 British nationals, including one child, and more than 180 other foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta area, with one British national being killed. Despite the lull in expatriate kidnappings since October 2007, kidnappings of Nigerian nationals have continued, as have threats and attacks against oil installations The FCO continues to advise against all travel to the Niger delta (Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, including Port Harcourt) and advises British nationals in these states to leave. We also advise against all travel to riverine areas of Cross River state and against all but essential travel to Akwa Ibom state because of the high risk of kidnapping, armed robbery and other armed attacks.