Thousands of irregular migrants are facing severe humanitarian conditions, due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, said the Migrant Project.
Over 300 migrants are stranded on the Mediterranean sea, after several European countries shut their ports against migrants in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus, said the group in a statement issued on Wednesday.
According to the group, thousands of Europe-bound irregular migrants from Africa are stranded in transit countries like Niger, Algeria and Libya, living in unhealthy and overcrowded spaces without food, water and basic hygiene.
“The reality of the global pandemic leaves both regular and irregular migrants stranded, however, the burden is heavier on irregular migrants, especially those en route,” said Tayo Elegbede, Media Lead, The Migrant Project.
Elegbede noted that migrants who had embarked on irregular journeys before the COVID-19 era are trapped in appalling conditions in unpleasant locations with no hope in sight given the limited humanitarian interventions for irregular migrants.
He expressed concern that the pandemic will lead to gross desperation to migrate irregularly due to the economic and social impact of the virus.
The desperation, according to him, will lead to a rise in criminal acts, human smuggling, trafficking of persons and exploitation.
Elegbede said: “COVID-19 has changed everything, migration inclusive.
“Countries have and will continue to redefine migration policies and pacts.
“Online and offline, criminal networks will devise and present new statics to swindle, smuggle and traffic unsuspecting potential migrants, particularly, the desperate ones.
“Hence, we urge Nigerians to be cautious of their migration decisions at the moment and post COVID-19.”
The Migrant Project is an awareness-raising campaign focusing on irregular migration in Nigeria.
Launched in March 2018, the aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and fill information gaps among the population in order to enable Nigerians make informed decisions about the risks and realities of irregular migration.