A scene in “In the Missing Steps” a TV series that alerts Nigerian youth to the pitfalls of irregular migration, including falling prey to smugglers and traffickers. The series follows Joshua, a young Nigerian university student, who migrates to Switzerland through irregular channels but could not obtain legal papers to stay in the country. The series of 13 episodes was aired on NTA, Nigeria’s largest TV network, in 2017 and it starred a cast of actors from Nollywood / Photo: IOM

Germany-based group advises aspiring migrants in Nigeria

The Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN), a Germany-based initiative promoting safe migration, has noted that criminal human trafficking networks continued to be the main driver of irregular emigration in Nigeria.

In view of the thousands of Nigerians stranded in various transit and destination countries around the world where they’re exposed to human rights abuses, the MEPN has issued a brief advisory to would-be migrants.

The advisory, christened ‘How not to fall victim to human traffickers’, advises youths thus:

  1. Note that you become an irregular migrant if you cross a border illegally or overstay on the territory of the country after the period of the legal stay expires. Irregular emigration to a foreign country is an illegal act, posing serious risks for you;
  2. Always check for the background information on the agency or persons offering you assistance in securing a visa or other assistance in travelling abroad;
  3. To obtain a visa, apply to a diplomatic mission or a consular service of the destination country personally, do not hand over your passport to any other person;
  4. If you plan to travel abroad to study or work, double-check the authenticity of the educational programme or job being offered before departure;
  5. Immediately contact the Nigerian diplomatic mission or consular office, which is obliged to protect your rights and legal interests in a foreign country, in case you’re in trouble or need assistance. If there isn’t a Nigerian diplomatic mission or consular office in the country, report to the law enforcement agencies or human rights organisations or migrant associations in the country.

The MEPN, a joint initiative of the African-German Information Centre Hamburg and The African Courier Verlag Berlin, explained the dangers of falling victims to human traffickers. The group said the only way to avoid being exposed to physical, psychological or sexual violence as victims of human trafficking is to migrate legally and safely.

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According to the International Organisation for Migration, more than 2,000 people, many of whom are Nigerians, drowned in the Mediterranean in 2018 trying to reach Europe. Many more are even believed to have died in transit, for example, while travelling across the Sahara Desert or in Libya.

“The time has come to put an end to the unnecessary deaths and suffering of young Nigerians as a result of irregular migration,” the MEPN said.

“Don’t leave Nigeria without a genuine visa for the country of destination!”

Sola Jolaoso

* The Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) is currently carrying out a campaign to promote a greater awareness of the risks and dangers of irregular migration in Nigeria. More on the MEPN at http://lookb4uleave.info/