President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over the high number of irregular migrants from Nigeria trying to cross to Europe.
President Buhari expressed this concern while declaring open the annual National Migration Dialogue in commemoration of the International Migrants Day in Abuja.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, lamented that: “Nigeria is considered as one of the main countries of origin of irregular migration.
“It is assumed to have the fifth largest numbers of citizens crossing to Europe and the highest number of irregular migrants flow through the Agadez and Niger route.”
He expressed regret that hundreds die each year attempting to reach the European continents and other destinations, assuring that the government was working with partners to address the situation.
“On our part, I’m aware that numerous awareness creating activities have been carried out at different levels by stakeholders and interest groups to inform Nigerian citizens, particularly the youths of the risks and vulnerability of irregular migration.
“Apart from the collection of efforts by the National Migration system, some MDAs such as NAPTIP, NIS, NCFRMI amongst others have specific and special mandates dealing with issues of irregular migration.
“Also, the Nigerian government has always engaged in the collaborative initiatives with regional and international organizations such as the EU, IOM, UNHCR, Switzerland and other destination countries to address the issues of irregular migration.”
He said Nigeria is committed to assisting all Nationals stranded and trapped in detention camps both in transit and destination countries come back home.
Speaking at the event, the Federal Commissioner of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Sadiya Umar Faruoq said the dialogue will enable stakeholders design strategies that will help the country understand why Nigerians kept trying to migrate in spite knowing the dangers involved.
The representative of International Organisation For Migration (IOM)’s Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin suggested that provision of legal avenues for migration, including humanitarian visas, temporary protective status, short-term visas, seasonal workers visas, temporary re-location among other legal means will help protect migrants.
He said advocacy programmes against irregular migration in schools and engagement of religious and community leaders will help reduce irregular migration in Nigeria.