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Taking campaign against smuggling of migrants to grassroots


The sensitisation team enlightening secondary school students.

Between January and September 2016, data obtained from the European Union (EU) indicated that daily, an average of 83 Nigerians make the illegal journey from the country to Europe, passing through the Mediterranean Sea.

This daily figure was arrived at from the 22, 500 illegal migrants from the country that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea within the aforementioned period.

Apart from the hefty sums that victims have to cough out in order to be ferried to Europe, which ranges from $2, 500 to $6, 000, not many make it through the perilous journey, which women are either sexually abused, murdered or drowned, and men sold into slavery or killed.

In 2017 alone, nearly 2, 000 migrants perished in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), even as many more were believed to have died travelling across the Sahara desert or in the transit countries.

Despite a substantial number of the nearly 2, 000 that died being Nigerians, many still wonder the mouthwatering incentives that still lure able-bodied youths to their untimely deaths en route to Europe.

These and other grim scenarios have led concerned bodies to organise series of sessions where they preach to youths, the dangers of illegal migration and the consequences they stand to face once things go awry.

The United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes (UNODC), with funding from the European Union, recently took the campaign against smuggling of migrants to the grassroots, especially border communities, when it organised a three-day field trip to the Mfum Border Post, as well as communities within that axis in Cross River State.

The Mfum border post is where the flow of migrants into and out of Nigeria and Cameroon takes place.

Within the three days, different stakeholders critical to checking the smuggling of migrants and irregular migrants, impressed on the locals, the negative implications of irregular migration to Europe.

Since people from different strata of the society are usually involved in illegal migration, the sensitisation programme, which held at the border post had in attendance, residents of the community, motorcycle riders, bus drivers, policemen, personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and their counterparts from the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS).

Before the sensitisation exercise, the team from UNODC and the NIS met with traditional rulers in Etung Local Council, where the key roles traditional rulers could play in curbing irregular migration and human trafficking were highlighted and emphasised.

The royal fathers were also informed of the imperatives of educating their subjects on the dangers of irregular migration and smuggling of migrants at the session, which had youths and women leaders in attendance.

At another sensitisation session at CRINA Secondary School, Ajassor, a school close to the border post, students of the school were told to guard against being lured with an imaginary better life in the city by relatives and family friends, who might end up using them for menial jobs and prostitution.

Participants at the different sensitisation exercises were equally educated on the signs of irregular migration and smuggling of migrants, just as they were advised against remaining silent if they have reasons to suspect that any one was being smuggled or about being trafficked.

The head of the delegation of the field trip, Mr. Sylvester Atere, at each of the stakeholders’ meetings said the field trip became important because of the negative impact that irregular migration and smuggling of migrants has had on the country.

He made reference to many Nigerians who have died on their way to Europe while trying to reach their destination through irregular routes.

Atere also spoke on the negative consequences of being a smuggled migrant, stressing that many have been enslaved or forced into prostitution after being smuggled to their country of destination.

He said that the sensitisation trip was about what could be done together to put a check on irregular migration and smuggling of migrants, adding that his organisation is not against migration, but against irregular migration.

He further said that every individual has the right to migrate, but it must be done within appropriate conventions and laws of migration.

At CRINA Secondary School, Atere, told the students that the sensitisation talk became important so that their future is not compromised since many victims of human trafficking were youths.

He maintained that if students were enlightened on the dangers of irregular migration and signs that are associated with smuggling of migrants, they would be able to take informed decisions at such points.

Principal of the school, Ogar Mgban, thanked the UNODC for organising the seminar, saying it has helped in enlightening the students, as well as, teachers, who would help to educate more students on the dangers of the twin evil.

The Paramount Ruler of Etung Local Council, Ntui Atue Emmanuel Oru Ojong, who attended the meeting with his council thanked the team for enlightening him and his team on issues around smuggling of migrants and human trafficking.

He called on other traditional rulers and village heads within his domain to help educate their subjects on the negative implications of irregular migration and smuggling of migrants.

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