A Non-Governmental Organisation, Migration Enlightenment Project, Nigeria (MEPN) says human traffickers are the main drivers of irregular migration among youths in Nigeria.
Newsmen report that MEPN is a Germany-based Nigerian diaspora initiative which started a campaign for safe migration in 2017 and is already in its second phase this year.
Mr Kenneth Gbandi, a Co-Project Director, MEPN, told newsmen in Abuja that irregular migrants were often deceived by the traffickers adding that if fully enlightened on the risk, would not embark on the journey.
“Just listen to the accounts of the returnees from Libya, a common strand runs through their stories, they were lied and deceived and did not know what they were getting into,” he said.
Gbandi called on stakeholders to embark on sensitization of youths on the risk and dangers of irregular migration adding that about 2,000 persons had been reported drowned in the Mediterranean in 2018.
He said that reports had also shown that thousands of young Nigerians had been left stranded in Libya, Algeria and Morocco where they were exposed to horrendous human rights abuses.
The co-project director said that thousands of the irregular migrants were sometimes lucky to get to Europe after being rescued in the high sea and taken to European ports.
According to him, landing in Europe in such a manner does not mean the struggle is over another struggle to acquire legal residency commences.
“Today, thousands of Nigerians are in legal limbo across Europe because entering Europe without visa means you have to apply for political or humanitarian asylum to be granted a temporary stay.
“The asylum claims of most Nigerians are rejected because Nigeria is not considered as a country where there is political persecution, which is the key condition for granting of asylum.
“In fact, Nigerians have the highest rejection rate of asylum applications made by Africans in Europe,” he said.
He said that information from German authorities had shown that about 30,000 Nigerians were awaiting deportation with over one million migrants in legal limbo in Europe.
The co-project director said the NGO was formed in 2016 in view of the need to sensitize Nigerians youths on the dangers of irregular migration.
Reports have it that the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) revealed that it has facilitated the return of 15,000 stranded Nigerians from various countries in Europe from 2001 till date.
Of this figure, IOM said, 9000 were returned to Nigeria in one year from April 2017 till date under the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme.
The IOM said the returnees arrived from more than 20 countries across Europe, Middle East and North Africa.
Though the IOM/European Union initiative targets 3,800 irregular migrants for reintegration under a three-year programme, the figure of returnees has tripled.
The figures, the IOM said, also showed that more than 50 per cent of the returnees were from Edo state; 17 per cent of the returnees were from Delta while Oyo, Ogun and Imo indigenes completed the top five states.