Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, says the EU wants to stop all forms of migration because it is dangerous, unprotected, and exploitative.
Modestus Chukwulaka, Press Officer, EU Delegation to Nigeria, who made this known in a statement on Wednesday, quoted Karlsen as saying that migration should happen out of aspiration, not desperation.
Karlsen made this known on Tuesday in Lagos shortly after the 64th charter flight bringing back voluntary Nigerian returnees arrived the county.
According to him, the EU is working in all areas of migration in Nigeria, including migration management, labour migration, irregular migration, return and reintegration, mobility and international protection.
He explained that Nigeria was a source, transit and destination country for women and children victims of sex trafficking and forced labour in the forms of prostitution, domestic servitude, begging and sometimes trafficking in human organs.
He said the International Organisation for Migration has identified 749 victims of trafficking among the returnees, and more than 3,172 with vulnerabilities.
He said: “Saving and protecting the lives of migrants and refugees, breaking the business model of smugglers and traffickers and providing legal pathways.
“Addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement are at the very heart of the EU’s policy.
“The EU is also working on the prevention side in the country of origin as well.
“Trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria are targeted under new EUR- 10 million programme focusing on these two issues for a period of five years.
“The European Union, through political dialogue and development cooperation, is supporting Nigeria to improve its capacity to deal with drivers of irregular migration, including the long-term and structural root causes and forced displacement.
“It is also working closely with local communities to create alternatives to migrant-smuggling based economies and to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants.’’
Karlsen said that in April 2017, the EU, through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, launched the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa with the International Organisation for Migration.
The EU Head of delegation said that within the framework of the Joint Initiative, 12, 974 stranded Nigerians migrants have been assisted to return to their home country, including 1,158 in 2019.
According to him, the Initiative, which is wholly funded by the EU, aims to improve migrant protection, voluntary return and reintegration.
Karlsen said that the initiative was being implemented by the IOM, in close collaboration with the Nigerian government.
He added that the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa is anchored on the principles of saving lives and protecting and assisting migrants along the migration routes.
He said that it employs actions that are rights-based and protection-focused, to ensure the dignity and safety of the assisted people in line with international standards.
Karlsen noted that through its policy and capacity building actions, the Initiative ensures that migration process is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities of origin.