The UN agency also disclosed how it assisted in the voluntary return and reintegration of about 4, 500 irregular Nigerian migrants from Libya between January and November this year, but expressed fears that except all stakeholders extend support to the returnees, they could soon be on their way back to Libya.
IOM Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Enira Krdzalic, who said this in her welcome address at the opening of a three-day National Planning Workshop on the Implementation of the National Policy on Labour Migration Action Plan in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, said the agency had been able to counsel the returnees, especially those with psychiatric problems.
Krdzalic, who was represented by the National Programme Officer, Mr Sunday Omoyeni, said: “For the nearly 5, 000 returnees, we have not started their full reintegration. We have only done initial reintegration which is counselling.
‘’Many of them are ill, many have psychiatric issues and we have referred them to psychiatric institutions. After that, we will help them with training or to set up a business but it is not sustainable.
‘’What the international donors are bringing is not enough. What happens when we end this project? The Nigerian government has to step in to help.
“When you see these people returning, what comes to your mind is that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder because these are agile or able-bodied youths with nothing to do.’’
Speaking further, Krdzalic said: “Between, January and November, 2017, IOM has assisted in the return and reintegration of over 4,489 stranded Nigerian migrants. The increasing number of migrants returning to Nigeria from North Africa, as well as increased number of irregular migrants arriving in Italy from Nigeria, suggests an increasing trend of irregular migration from Nigeria and call for urgent actions to address the situation.
“The number of deaths and those suffering exploitation and abuse along the Central Mediterranean migration route are at an alarming rate.
“Crossing the Mediterranean is by far the deadliest route, with one death recorded for 35 arrivals. European statistics show that the amount of migrants from West Africa in migration flows to Europe have continued to increase, despite the perilous conditions of making the journey irregularly.
‘’Thousands of Nigerians are stranded in Libya, living in a terrible condition, with many desirous of the opportunity to return home.’’
“As a way of stemming the tide, IOM said within the framework of the 10th European Development Fund project, it has assisted the federal government to develop several initiatives to address the challenges of migration governance in Nigeria.”