President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to evacuate Nigerians stranded or trapped in detention camps both in transit and destination countries.
Buhari made the commitment when he declared open the 2017 Annual National Migration Dialogue in Abuja on Tuesday to commemorate the International Migrants Day.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd.), urged participants to come up with actionable proposals that would improve responses at the end of the colloquium.
“I have directed all the relevant agencies to ensure the evacuation of all Nigerians trapped in Libya and to ensure their reintegration into the society.
“However, we will continue to work together with the international communities in ensuring better governance in all aspect of migration in other to harness its potential for human and national development.
“I commend the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced persons, European Union (EU), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other implementing partners for their efforts.
“On this note, I declare the dialogue open,’’ he said.
Buhari said that many awareness programmes had been carried out by stakeholders to enlighten the youth on the dangers of illegal migration.
He, however, maintained that the Nigerian Government had always engaged in collaborative efforts with regional and international organisations such as the EU, IOM, UNHCR and other destination countries to address illegal migration.
“We are aware that international committee is making effort both in policies and actions in seeking effective response to ending or reducing the menace of illegal migration.
“One of this efforts resulted to the recent voluntary return of migrants; the IOM provided stranded migrants valuable assistance to escape their predicaments.
“This efforts have seen the return of thousand of Nigerians, most of whom have benefited from the reintegration programme provided by the government,’’ he said.
Speaking earlier, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, the Federal Commissioner, NCFRMI said that the theme for this year’s dialogue “Comprehensive Approach to Combating Illegal Migration: from Rhetoric to Action’’ was apt.
She explained that the theme was aimed at developing and strengthening Nigeria’s response to the challenges of illegal migration, and improving collaborations with respective partners.
Farouq said that it was also a call to ensuring a comprehensive approach to combating illegal migration while paying particular attention to addressing the root causes.
“The dialogue was inspired by the need to go beyond the rhetorics of just observing International Migrants Day to include evolving concrete and practical approach in raising awareness and addressing the trends in migration.
“The consequences of illegal migration are enormous and devastating to migrants and their experiences of vulnerability range from discrimination and exploitation to abuse.
“An example of such vulnerability experienced by migrants in transit countries can be seen in recent happenings in Libya involving trading in humans and mistreatment of migrants in detention centres.
“We gather here with the expectations to brainstorm on strategies that will respond and address the questions of why they keep going in spite of known dangers and efforts to discourage them,’’ Farouq said.
In his remarks, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen pledged support of the union to redouble its efforts in 2018 in tackling the menace of illegal migration in Nigeria.
Karlsen said that this year, the EU facilitated the return of about 6,000 Nigerians from Libya and pledged to secure the voluntary, safe and dignified return of 15,000 people by Feb. 2018.
He said that the EU welcomes the call by Buhari and the efforts to intensify the dialogue with European partners to address the challenges.
The EU ambassador pointed out that trafficking in humans was a serious offence and a violation of human rights that no country should tolerate, and urged that traffickers should be prosecuted when caught.
He said that since 2012, the EU had supported Nigeria with about 80 million Euros specifically targeted at addressing migration issues.