By Ifeanyi Nwoko/Henrrietta Deme
The Federal Government, in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and The Netherlands on Tuesday, inaugurated a programme to assist victims of illegal migration and trafficking in Nigeria.
The project, sponsored by the government of The Netherlands and tagged “Cooperation on Migration and Partnership to Achieve Sustainable Solutions (COMPASS)”, is a global initiative designed to protect migrants and victims of trafficking.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the initiative also aims to tackle human trafficking, human smuggling, and support dignified return as well as promote sustainable reintegration.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Ms Saskia Kok, IOM’s Programme Manager, explained that the scheme takes advantage of a social approach to assisting individuals.
She said the project would be implemented simultaneously in 12 countries and would work across all levels, including households, communities, and the wider community.
Countries, where the programme will be implemented, include Nigeria, Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, and Tunisia.
“There is a lot of opportunities to share best practices, work together, and make the most of migration management capacities of all countries involved.
“It has a very strong learning component designed to improve knowledge and update lessons learned.
“IOM and its partners have implemented and funded a couple of programmes and we have made significant progress.
“We have supported the review of relevant national policies including the migration policy, labour migration policy, and the diaspora policy.
“We have also worked with NAPTIP to revise and adopt the national policy for the protection and assistance of victims of trafficking,” she said.
According to her, the new programme is focused on returning irregular migrants and also reintegrating them into society.
She said that in the past four years, more than 21,000 migrants had been returned.
She said that most of the returnees had been exposed to violence, exploitation, and abuse and as such, “it is difficult to reintegrate them.”
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development Hajiya Umar Farouq commended the government of the Netherlands for sponsoring the project.
She assured of Nigeria’s commitment to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063, and key principles outlined in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.
She said that the government “is prepared to support policies, programmes, and initiatives that keep migrants’ rights, dignity, and protection at the center” while strengthening cooperation for international migration.
“This is particularly important for Nigeria as a source, transit, and destination country for various migration routes.
“Nigeria is also committed to upholding the human rights of migrants as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of human rights.
“Suffice it to state that the Federal Government of Nigeria is working together with states, the international community, and all relevant stakeholders in ensuring better governance of all aspects of migration in order to harness its (Nigeria’s) potentials for human and national development,” she said.
She added that Nigeria has implemented a wide variety of programming during the past years aimed at advancing the governance and management of migration in the country, and provide sustainable reintegration support to returning Nigerian migrants.
The representative of the Netherlands government, Eva de Wit, expressed optimism that the project will carry everyone along to help curb irregular migration while protecting migrants.
Eva who is the First Secretary, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Nigeria, said that the project would also contribute to improving the knowledge of stakeholders in managing migration.
“We hope that the insights that would be gained from COMPASS would be able to contribute to further knowledge sharing to manage migration.
“We look forward to furthering collaboration with all of you and to see the impact of COMPASS in the next couple of years,” she said.
NAN reports that the project will be implemented with other stakeholders including the National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in Persons, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons.