By Esther Onyegbula
A coalition of International authorities in collaboration with local partners has disclosed that the stressors of illegal migration and human trafficking can precipitate mental health issues.
The group made this known at an outreach organised by Umagba n’Edo ne Prayer Ministry International and the Evangelical Believers Outreach Ministries International, in collaboration with indigenes of Edo residing in Italy.
The event themed: “Mental Health and Human Trafficking – The way forward for Edo State” held in Rome, the Italian capital, on May 13, 2023, had a cross-section of Edo State people residing in Rome and its environs.
Speaking at the event geared towards proffering solutions to the problem of illegal migration and human trafficking in Edo State, the keynote speaker, Dr Loretta Oduware Ogboro-Okor, said the stress of illegal migration and trafficking could cause mental health issues.
In her words, “Often because socio-culturally, we do not talk about these kinds of issues. People suffer in silence and do not seek help until it is too late”.
She, therefore, proffered solutions along the lines of individual self-help, community actions, and non-governmental and government actions across borders.
Giving a detailed analysis of the burden and ills of illegal migration and human trafficking, Dr Ogboro-Okor noted that Italy played a central role in the narrative of Edo State for good and for bad.”
According to her “Data abound from the International Organisation for Migration, Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics and the Edo State archives, of how huge human trafficking and illegal migration is and affects the Edo state people, hence the issue should not be trivialised.”
On the way forward, Dr Ogboro –Okor emphasized the need to create awareness of the signs of mental health issues and how people could seek help, even as she charged community leaders in the Edo State Italian communities to rise to the occasion by providing mentoring, community listening groups and pointing people in the right direction where they could access support and care.
“Therefore, there needs to be a robust collaboration with the Italian government to achieve these”. She stressed.
On her part, the organiser of the outreach and founder, Evangelist Gladys Osamuyime Ogbeide, explained that the event became necessary, as the ills of illegal migration and human trafficking showed a close link with mental health issues.
Refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants according to her, “ have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, many of them encounter barriers to accessing mental health care.”
“Also poor socioeconomic conditions have been associated with increased rates of depression five years after resettlement. There is evidence that this burden of illegal migration and human trafficking is something that has plagued the people of Edo State in Nigeria for several years.”
Meanwhile, the President of Edo State Cultural Association Rome Lazio Italy, Samuel Omokaro Izekor and the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) Italy Chapter, Engr. George Omo Iduhon (CFRN), jointly posited that efforts were underway to maximise the collaboration of all stakeholders in the quest to reduce the suffering of Edo State people who suffered mental health issues in the Italian communities.
They reassured all present that the communique from the event would be presented to both the Italian and Nigerian Ambassadors, as well as the Government of Edo State. They also appealed to other well-meaning Edo State groups to “ follow the lead of Umagba n’Edo ne Ministries and make these kinds of outreaches regular.
Also, the general coordinator of the Umagba n’Edo Group, Pastor Eddision Eraghahiewu, stressed that God would only use men and women to change the tide. “He will not come down from heaven to do what we should be doing”, he stated.
Attendees at the event, who described the session as insightful, requested that it should be rotated to different regions of Italy.
Those in support of the event’s organisation were the Wise Men Group of Roma represented by their Patron, Mr Kelly Osamede Uwhumarongie and many others.