Frantz Celestin, Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration, Nigeria, says the agency has taken a comprehensive society approach to address the migration challenges in Nigeria.
Celestin made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
The UN recently held a retreat for Ambassadors of the Economic Community of West Africa States on: “Mixed migration flows in the ECOWAS Region.”
The retreat was organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the ECOWAS Commission.
According to Celestin, mixed migration flow is a complex phenomenon and to effectively address it, IOM has involved migrants and other members of the society as it cuts across all sectors
He said IOM had engaged with governments, religious bodies, communities and their leaders, educational institutions, the media, among others, to increase awareness and sensitisation.
Celestin said it was important to note that migration was not a bad thing but citizens should be sensitised against irregular migration and the new trends to avoid falling victims of trafficking or smuggling.
He said migration was very important to IOM and within the mixed flows, there were people with different status but IOM looked after the protection of everybody regardless of their status.
He said: “We are taking a whole of society approach to migration management in Nigeria, we are getting the communities involved, churches, mosques, the governments and migrants involved.
“Looking at the development side of it, we go into the local communities, provide the necessary environment for the people to develop because what is necessary is for the people to see themselves in their communities.
“We want to make sure that anybody that decides to migrate does so in a safe and dignified manner after having the proper procedure in place for the migrants and governance.
“It is important is for the migrants to be better informed about the journey, the dangers, and whatever policies that we put in place has to be in the best interest of the migrants.
“We are working with the Nigeria Immigration Service to build their capacities in terms of boarder management.
“We are training officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons to detect trafficked victims, provide shelter for them and also to prosecute the traffickers.
“In providing durable solutions in the Nigeria context, we have been doing that from our development perspectives, from a governance perspective in terms of effectively managing migration.”
Celestin lauded the recently concluded ECOWAS Ambassadors’ retreat, which created a good platform for UNHCR and ECOWAS to understand on how to deal with the mixed flow of citizens across the region and beyond.
Celestin said it also created the opportunity for actors to interact and liaise with ECOWAS ambassadors to understand the situation and how it affected their respective countries.
He said: “We were also able to know what has been done in ECOWAS member states, especially within the regional migration policy.
“And the regional mixed migration manual with the action plan and the teacher’s guide, so there is a lot that came out of the retreat.”
Celestin said that whatever policies that would be put in place to be adopted in the sub-region should contain modalities that would facilitate safe and orderly migration.