Chris Steven, Abuja
Nigeria has said the removal of stereotype of migrants as a desperate, parasitic and less economic value group is the most effective means of solving perceived and real challenges posed by migrants.
According to the leader of the Nigerian delegation to the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) holding in Geneva, Switzerland, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuff Lasun migrants represent an increased market size, purveyor of skilled and talent, alternative sources of labour and work force as well as reversal of population losses.
Lasun, while delivering his address before the general Assembly yesterday however warned that before granting asylum to migrants, all States must colaborate with INTERPOL, take appropriate steps to ensure that such persons had no link with terrorism.
He said: “The scale, scope and complexity of migration in today’s world have been on the increase due to a number of push and pull factors.
“These include include but not limited to hard conflicts and terrorism which has created a pool of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), economic downturn especially in my country leading millions of migrants in search of opportunities; social strife arising from religious fundamentalism, Xenophobia, ideological intolerances, natural disasters such as desertification, flooding, earthquake and volcanic eruptions.
“I wish to remind us that when people migrate for any of these reasons, they carry along with them their fundamental human rights within the contest of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR).
“Accordingly, whether migration within national boundaries or transnational borders, it is our responsibilities to evolve policies that respect the rights of refugees or asylum seekers.
“In doing so, we must recognise that all human beings are born free and it is morally and legally wrong to discriminate against any on the account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or others, national or social origin, property, birth or other status
“It is important that we remove the stereotype of migrants as a desperate parasitic and less economic value group. In fact, if properly integrated, they will be veritable drivers of economic growth and development.
“Migrants represent an increase in market size, purveyors of skills and talents, alternative source of labour or workforce and reversal of population losses.
“We accept that in the short run, they may constitute a drain of scarce natural resources and opportunities to the host country but in the long run, migrants bring to the table all the benefits of diversity in terms of food, good, culture and services”.
While prescribing measures that can solve the problem, Lasun urged world leaders to be mindful of the 1951 Convention that was adopted after World War 2 and amended in 1957 to cover the whole world, taking new migrants therefore is a matter of international agitation.
“In the light of the foregoing, and since by definition, refugees are not protected by their own government, the international community must ensure they are safe and protected.
“We must observe the statement of the UN High Commission for Refugee that refugees deserve as a minimum the same standard of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country in any case is the same treatment as nationals.
“In addition, refugees have and should enjoy the right to housing, work, access to education, access to public assistant, access to court and the right to get identification as well as a travel document.
“We call on all IPU countries to accept migrants as a matter of moral and legal obligation as well as averting a possible humanitarian crises.
“National laws must ensure that the labour of irregular economic migrants is not exploited by employers.
“Before granting asylum to migrants, all states must collaborate with interpol, take a concrete steps to ensure that such persons had not planned, facilitated or participated in the act of terrorism and on their parts, migrants must respect the laws, customs, cultural values of their host countries”.
He also availed the forum steps taken to address the issue, saying, “As most of you are already aware, Nigeria is presently battling scourge of terrorist activity of a movement called Boko Haram.
“You must at once notice that there is nothing Islamic about Boko Haram which rejects the concept of modern statehood, western education and values.
“The activities of this group are now trans-border and have led to dislocation and migration of at least 2 million people.
“We have established IDP camps across the country. We have persons escaping the consequences of insurgency housed on temporary basis.
“These counts are rolled by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with the support of NGOs and other philanthropists.
“Similarly, on 31st July 2014, a Presodential Committee on Boko Haram Victims Support Fund was established.
“The mandate of the Committee is to identify sources and ways of sustainable funding to support victims of terror activities
“Ascertain the persons, communities, facilities and community assets affected by terror activities
“Assess and determine the appropriate support required in each case as well as advise government on matters necessary and incidental to support victims of terror.
“The Committee is discharging its mandate creditably and has raised over N80b which is being used to rehabilitate victims.
“In view of the sensitivity attached to the issue by the Nigerian parliament, the House of Representatives has established a Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Initiatives on North East.
“In the Senate, a Bill has been introduced on the creation of North East Development Commission and has gone through second reading”.
On way forward, Nigeria called on all nation to deepen their democratic system by adopting inclusive practices, so as to eliminate sources of conflicts and tensions.