About 12,700 irregular migrants return to Nigeria in 2 years – UN-IOM

Migrants at sea
Migrants at sea

The UN-International Organisation on Migration (IOM) says it has been involved in the evacuation of over 12,700 irregular migrants from certain countries back to Nigeria in the last two years.

The Public Information Officer of the organisation in Nigeria, Jorge Galindo, disclosed this on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.

Mr Galindo spoke on the sidelines of a media dialogue with Nigerian editors and heads of media establishments organised by the IOM.

He said that out of the lot, the organisation had initiated integration programmes for about 5000.

He recalled that the IOM’s operations started in the country in 2001.

Mr Galindo said that they had since begun to implement a host of different projects in Abuja and Lagos as well as addressing humanitarian issues in North East Nigeria.

On the European Union/IOM Joint Initiative on Migration, Mr Galindo said that their aim was to bring back about 13,000 irregular migrants trapped in Libya and other African countries back to Nigeria.

He said that the first flight that brought irregular migrants back to Nigeria under the initiative was on April 11, 2017.

“We assist migrants returning from Libya, Mali and other countries by providing them with assistance, protection and channel them through appropriate integration programmes.

“There are still more migrants that are trapped in horrible conditions in Libya and we will continue this programme for many more to return voluntarily and safely.

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“We look at the profiles of the returnees and decide with them the best form of support they need,” he said.

Mr Galindo said that the organisation also had the responsibility of alerting potential migrants in the country on what lay ahead if they chose irregular routes.

“We use a community-based approach to share information in communities where these migrants come from.

“This is aimed at showing them the realities of dangerous journeys,” he said.

He, however, said that the process of reintegration was not without its challenges.

“We have spoken with a number of the returnees and they complain of stigmatisation by members of their communities.

“They are seen as people that have failed to fulfil their personal and family dreams.

“It is very important for us to reach out to these communities to inform them what harrowing experiences these returnees went through.

“People should be more sympathetic and provide them with the platform to communicate with one another,” Mr Galindo said. (NAN)

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