Chris Steven, Abuja
Over 1500 African migrants who were seeking better opportunities in Europe through illegal routes have died in the Mediterranean Sea alone in 2017, the Nigerian in Diaspora Organization (NIDO) has revealed.
The organization said many more are believed to have died travelling across the Sahara desert or in the transit countries.
Kenneth Gbandi, President of NIDO for Europe said the information was obtained from the United Nations’, International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Speaking ahead of NIDO’s planned Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria Information Campaign slated for September 2017 in Lagos, said substantial number of these irregular migrants are Nigerians.
The campaign, he explained, is to promote Safe Migration by raising awareness about the dangers and risks of irregular migration.
He said “We receive daily news of the suffering of young African migrants seeking better opportunities in Europe through illegal routes”.
“The ordeal that many go through either in the transit countries such as Niger and Libya or during the perilous journeys on rickety boats across the Mediterranean is heart wrenching.
“This year alone, more than 1,500 migrants have perished in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Many more are believed to have died travelling across the Sahara desert or in the transit countries”.
Gbande, in a statement made available to ICIR on the forthcoming campaign titled ” look before you leave” revealed that there are up to one million migrants who are trapped in transit in Libya and are exposed to harsh living conditions and human right abuses.
He said “In Libya, for example, there are up to 1 million migrants trapped in transit where they are exposed to hash living conditions and widespread human rights abuses”.
“Some are traded as slaves for ransom, labour or sex by gangs of people-smugglers and many die in the appalling conditions of detention facilities run by both the Libyan authorities and militia forces.
“A substantial number of these irregular migrants are Nigerians. In fact, Nigerians constitute the single largest group of sub-Saharans in Libya”.
He lamented that many of the migrants left Nigeria lured by the false promise of people-smugglers “who deceive their victims into paying sometimes thousands of dollars for a passage to Europe”.
While noting that “there is no easy passage to Europe through irregular migration” he stressed that illegal route to Europe is littered with hardship and death.
“The Nigerian Diaspora in Europe is deeply disturbed by this situation hence its decision to do something about it” he said.
“This is why The African-German Information Center (AGIC), and The African Courier Verlag – both owned by Nigerians living in Germany – in collaboration with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is launching the information campaign “Migration Enlightenment Project in Nigeria.
“The objective of the “Know the Facts” campaign is to raise public 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 project will highlight the opportunities for legal migration to Europe and give a realistic picture of the situation of irregular migrants in the transit countries and Europe.
“The campaign entitled “Look before you leave” is to make young Nigerians aware of the consequences of illegal migration and its hardships while also encouraging youths to look at positive alternatives to emigration available in Nigeria”.