Germany-based Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) has called on those planning to migrate to seek independent information so that they do not fall easy prey to the deceit of human traffickers.
MEPN, a Nigerian diaspora initiative, in a statement issued recently to mark this year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons, said irregular migration was being driven by people smugglers who employ lies to deceive would-be emigrants.
Quoting figures released by the UN’s International Organization for Migration on 19 July, the statement signed by Co-Project Directors, Kenneth Gbandi and Femi Awoniyi, said more than 1,443 persons had died in the Mediterranean so far this year, adding that “this is not counting those who may have lost their lives crossing the Sahara Desert or in Libya”.
The MEPN pointed out that despite the commendable efforts of the federal government to evacuate stranded Nigerians in Libya, thousands are still trapped in the transit countries being not able to continue their journey to Europe. “Many are subjected to forced labour and sexual exploitation and most are exposed to serious human rights abuses.”
“We have a crisis on our hands! The rising human costs of irregular migration have necessitated concerted action from governments and voluntary groups,” the MEPN said in the statement.
The group, which is currently carrying out a follow-up campaign in major Nigerian cities – Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Abuja, Enugu and Warri – to raise public awareness on the risks and dangers of irregular migration, called on youths to imbibe a realistic approach to migration.
“They should not believe the easy promises of traffickers whose only concern is to collect money from their clients without bordering on what happens to them during the perilous journey,” the statement read.
It was important that would-be emigrants seek reliable information on their desired country of destination and what is legally required to get there as well as the requirements for residence permit to enable them make a fact-based decision on migrating. Moreover, positive alternatives to migration should be explored before venturing outside the country.
The MEPN also called on government to still device better ways of inhibiting the activities of people smuggling as “trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights”.
“As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres rightly pointed out human traffickers too often operate with impunity, with their crimes receiving not nearly enough attention. This must change.”
The group called for harsher treatment for convicted human traffickers, while appealing to the federal government not to relent in its efforts to evacuate Nigerians who are still stranded along the irregular migration route.
The World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2018 was held across the globe on 30 July 2018, and is an annual event.