From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Wednesday that it has, in coordination with the federal government, facilitated the voluntary return of over 21,000 Nigerians stranded abroad in Libya, Niger, Mali, European countries and other transit and destination countries.
Head of Sub-office, IOM, Benin, Wintana Tarekegn, made the disclosure during a town hall meeting on Safe Migration held in Benin City.
‘IOM in coordination with the federal government of Nigeria, has facilitated to voluntarily return over 21,000 Nigerians migrants stranded abroad in Libya, Niger, Mali, European countries and other transit and destination countries,’ she said.
Tarekegn said that the IOM, the United Nations'(UN) migration agency, is currently implementing several awareness-raising interventions in Nigeria including Migrants as Messengers, (MaM) designed to create positive behavioural change among potential migrants and their families and friends to make safe and informed migration related decisions and promote the positive impact returning migrants bring to their home communities.
She stressed that the town hall meeting was to establish ways and linkages on how to integrate migration discussions in schools to bring about increased knowledge and awareness on the risk of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
Tarekegn added that it would promote the tenet of safe migration practices as well as provide an avenue for social cohesion for returned migrants to reduce stigma and help them fit back into the society.
She said the stakeholders deliberations and contributions are key to developing holistic home-grown solutions and approach to addressing the scourge of irregular migration, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
Speaking on the “Integrating Migration Discussions in Schools Through Peer-to-Peer-Approach”, Mr Elijah Elaigwu, Project Assistant Migration Management/Awareness Raising, said the IOM found out from their research that, most students from various schools don’t know much about irregular migration and thus decided to take the messages to their door steps at schools.
He said with the knowledge of the dangers inherent in irregular migrations, it will help them form a right decision and avoid the the pit fall.
Mr Elaigwu said that the IOM has trained 43 volunteers in Edo, Lagos and Delta states with the view of discouraging the act of irregular migration in the country.