By Sade Williams
An information campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers of irregular migration will kick off at the Centre for Management Development (CMD) in Lagos on 12 September.
Initiated by African-German Information Center (AGIC), Hamburg, and The African Courier Verlag, Berlin, with the support of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the campaign under the aegis of the “Migration Enlightenment Project in Nigeria (MEPN)” will work with the media, civil society and government agencies to dissuade young people from taking illegal routes to Europe.
Among those expected to attend the press conference/project launch are journalists, representatives of youth organisations and women groups, and government officials. Speakers billed to talk at the one-day event include Hon. Rita Orji, chairperson of the Committee on the Diaspora at the Federal House of Representatives, Kenneth Gbandi, director of AGiC and chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, and Femi Awoniyi, publisher of The African Courier.
The “Know the Facts” campaign, which will run until the end the year, seeks to promote an increased awareness about the dangers and risks of irregular migration to Europe and explain the legal requirements for regular migration with the overall objective of promoting Safe Migration.
The campaign, captioned “Look before you Leave”, will highlight the opportunities for legal migration to Europe and give a realistic picture of the situation of irregular migrants in Europe while also encouraging youths to look at positive alternatives to emigration available in Nigeria.
Thousands of young Africans are victims of people-smugglers who deceive prospective emigrants into paying sometimes thousands of dollars for a supposedly easy passage to Europe only to be abandoned in the transit countries such as Libya or Niger, where they’re exposed to harsh living conditions and human rights abuse.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), up to 1 million migrants are trapped in transit in Libya. The frustration of their precarious situation and the dangers they face in the North African country, which is in a state of conflict, make many migrants so desperate to willingly take the grave risk of boarding rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
More than 1,500 migrants have died in the perilous journey this year alone, says the IOM. Many more are believed to have perished in the transit countries.