Nigeria, Switzerland celebrate 10 years of Migration Partnership

Nigeria and Switzerland have commemorated the 10th anniversary of a partnership on migration between the two countries.

To mark the event, a mobile information campaign bus and a brochure on the “10 Years Migration Partnership Between Nigeria And Switzerland” were launched at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, on Tuesday.

The Blue Bus, a “one-stop office for Public Enlightenment and Counselling of victims of Human Trafficking”, is expected to take the fight against human trafficking to rural areas of the country.

Donated by the International Office for Migration (IOM), the bus was presented by the Head of the Federal department of Justice and Police, Switzerland, Karin Keller-Sutter, to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, expressed her “pleasure at the uniqueness of the decade-long exemplary relationship between Nigeria and Switzerland on migration” at the event on Tuesday.

Nigerian and Swiss officials launching the Blue Bus in Abuja on Tuesday/Photo: NAPTIP

Main areas of co-operation under the Swiss-Nigerian partnership on migration include the prevention of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, sustainable return and reintegration, migration and development, promotion and protection of human rights, border management, prevention of irregular migration, and the promotion of regular migration.

Farouq, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Alhaji Bashir Alkali, said the partnership was “a celebration of success”, stressing that there was no time in the history of international relations that the management of migration across international borders had been easy or free from diverse challenges.

Speaking at the event, Ms Karin Keller-Sutter, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, said she was pleased with the 10th anniversary celebration.

Keller-Sutter said the migration partnership between Nigeria and her country was an ideal example of how bilateral relations could be used to address common challenges in a positive and dynamic way.

She maintained that Switzerland was determined to continue to foster the dialogue within the framework of the migration partnership and remained a close partner to Nigeria and Nigerians.

“I praise the resilience of the Nigerian people. Our relationship has become a cornerstone of trade and other profitable ventures.

“I am also impressed by the ongoing projects to support Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons and I would be able to see some of the projects as we inaugurate the Blue Bus Project today.

“The Blue Bus Project is a good source of counselling and enlightenment on the dangers of illegal and irregular migration to people in all parts of the country. And this would help to control the surge,” Keller-Sutter said.

Imaan Sulaiman, Director-General of National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in Person (NAPTIP), said the Agency had benefited from the relationship in terms of capacity building and relief for returnees.

The Blue Bus Campaign is expected to take messages on safe migration to the grassroots/Photo: NAPTIP

She said the Blue Bus Campaign would help in taking messages on migration to the grassroots.

“In the Green Bus, there is a provision for counselling, education and other services to ensure that the mentality of wanting to illegally migrate to other countries by Nigerians is addressed’.

Sulaiman was represented by Mr Godwin Mouka, a senior officer from the Agency.

Nigeria was the first African country with which Switzerland established a migration partnership in 2011. Over the first decade of the Swiss-Nigerian Migration Partnership, 50 innovative projects have been successfully implemented.

Switzerland has also established migration partnerships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. Essential aspects of migration partnerships include projects and programs that have a specific bearing on migration-related questions, such as:

– Fight against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings

– Return and reintegration

– Migration and development

– Protection of refugees, internally displaced persons and vulnerable migrants

– Regular migration (e.g. visa policy and basic and further training)

The Swiss-Nigerian Migration Partnership was established in February 2011, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is the focal agency for migration issues and works closely with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) and the Sub-Saharan Africa and Francophonie Division (SAFD) of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) as well as the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The main partners on the Nigerian side are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

Kola Tella

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