By Bukar Bolori
The United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has promised to continue deepening cooperation with Nigeria to tackle issues about irregular migration, stating that plans are underway to encourage people with skills to stay in the country and assist in its development instead of taking a walk out in search of the Golden Fleece.
The IOM Chief of Mission, Laurent De Boeck, made the disclosure on Monday in Abuja during the “End of Year” media briefing of the organisation.
The event, according to him, was designed to commemorate the International Migrant Day with the theme:”Act today for better future.”
He noted that the briefing has become important to promote discussion on issues about migration management, crisis response, internal-displacement, counter-trafficking, climate change and trending topics in specialised areas of humanitarian intervention.
De Boeck said: “We are reinforcing our cooperation with the Federal and the State levels, for answering characteristics of migration level and for achieving good reception in the country.
“Thanks to the fact that the country is in global compact on migration.
“There is a network on migration among various ministries, which will help us to comprehensively promote involvement of different MDAS on the team of migration.
“This is key for us to ensure that the Federal level and State level have the response level aligned to the national policies and frameworks.”
He said although the organisation currently operate in 30 states and the Federal Capital Territory, it would expand its frontiers to tackle issues about displaced population.
The IOM Head disclosed that measures had been put in place to help displaced population and affected communities, as well as to establish peace and reconciliation processes there.
De Boeck said the year 2023 has witnessed unprecedented increases in global migration, propelled by factors such as climate change, conflict, and economic disparities.
He said: “In the face of this complex landscape, our responsibility to respond critically and compassionately is more crucial than ever, particularly for the individuals directly affected.”
He added that: “In the realm of Migration Health, our efforts in 2023 have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to comprehensive healthcare. We conducted over 260,000 Pre-Departure Medical Health Assessments (PDMHAs), diagnosed and referred 166 migrants with TB, administered 15,000 vaccine doses, and renovated three public hospitals. This reflects our dedication to ensuring the well-being of those undertaking the journey of migration.
“Through collaborating closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria, IOM facilitated the voluntary return of 4,431 Nigerians, with 2,909 finding accommodation at the Migrant Transit Centre. Since 2017, a total of 34,158 migrants have returned, and 2,853 have received reintegration assistance, contributing to a grand total of 21,713 reintegrated since 2017. Our support extends beyond mere return, with the establishment of reintegration hubs and the implementation of community-based reintegration projects, providing crucial assistance to returnees and their communities.”
He equally added that: “IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services have been instrumental in reaching 106,947 individuals in 2023.
“These services offer material assistance, psychosocial support, and referral services to victims of trafficking, persons with disabilities, and vulnerable households, underscoring our commitment to holistic support.In our unwavering dedication to protection, IOM identified and supported 682 victims of trafficking in 2023. Our focus on vulnerable groups, including survivors of gender-based violence, persons with disabilities, and unaccompanied and separated children, is reflected in the development of policy documents such as Family Tracing SOPs and BIP guidelines.”
He advised that: “On this International Migrants Day, let us work hand in hand to harness the power of migration, recognizing that every person can make a difference and be an agent of positive change. Our collective actions today will shape a brighter and more inclusive future.”