As coming home is getting harder for irregular migrants who bear the shame of failure for not confirming popular myths of faraway streets paved with gold, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an agency of the United Nations is currently making life a bit easier for returnees.
‘’When I came back, my family deserted me because their hope of having a child in Europe was dashed. My friends rejected me because I didn’t tell them I left Nigeria. My wife ran away with my kids because she thought I would never amount to anything’’, Adeola as he received his business skills training certificate in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Adding, he said, ‘’but here I am now. IOM just rekindled my hope.’’
On February 7, Adeola, together with 20 other migrant returnees, attended a graduation ceremony marking the end of a four-day business skill management training, aiming to equip returnees with basic knowledge and skills on how to manage and run a small business.
The launch event ran parallel to the first state-level coordination meeting in the Edo state capital cityto launch a project aimed at enhancing the protection and reintegration of returnees who were assisted back to Nigeria between January and February 2018 through an initiative by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The project, funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, and implemented by the IOM in collaboration with the Federal Government, aims to strengthen the capacity of state and non-state actors in Lagos, Edo and Delta states to provide sustainable reintegration support to returned migrants, including vulnerable groups.
The most vulnerable 1,700 returnees will receive socio-economic reintegration assistance and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).
In total, IOM has provided business skill management training for 550 beneficiaries under this new project.
‘’The UK Government is very happy to be supporting IOM in its mission to protect and rehabilitate returned migrants to Nigeria, including victims of trafficking, from Libya’’, said Debbie Palmer, Head of Office, DFID Nigeria.
The event was organised by IOM in collaboration with the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI).
Senior federal and state government representatives, including the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, NCFRMI, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Edo State Taskforce Against Human Trafficking, Nigeria Immigration Service, as well as representatives from nongovernmental organisations and civil society convened at the meeting to identify gaps, challenges and priorities, and discuss a way forward to strengthen state-level coordination.
The 24-month project, Protection and Reintegration of Nigerian Migrants Returned from Libya under the Federal Government-Facilitated Chartered Flights is however, complimentary to programmes such as the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.