BY G9ija

The European Union (EU) has pledged to support Nigeria to stem the tide of irregular migration.

A statement by the Media Officer of the EU Mission in Nigeria, Mr Modestus Chukwulaka, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Enugu, said it would also work for the integration of returning migrants.

Chukwulaka said that the union would through political dialogue and development cooperation with the government deal with drivers of irregular migration.

He said that the collaboration would also unravel the long-term and structural root causes and forced displacement of migrants.

“The EU is also working closely with local communities to create alternatives to migrant-smuggling based economies with a view to facilitating sustainable reintegration of returning migrants.

“In April 2017, the EU through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) launched the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

“Within the framework of the joint initiative, 12, 974 stranded Nigerian migrants have been assisted to return to their home country, including 1,158 in 2019.

“The initiative, which is wholly funded by the EU aims at improving migrant protection, voluntary return and reintegration.

“It is being implemented by the IOM in collaboration with Nigerian government,” he said.

Chukwulaka said that the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa was anchored on the principles of saving lives, protecting and assisting migrants along migration routes.

“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.

“The initiative ensures that the migration process is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities of origin,” he said.

He said that saving and protecting the lives of migrants and refugees, breaking the business model of smugglers and traffickers and providing legal pathways were at the heart of EU’s policy.

Chukwulaka said that the Head of the EU delegation in Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr Ketil Karlsen had assured that the union would address the root causes of irregular migration.

He said that Karlsen made a commitment to stop dangerous, unprotected, and exploitative forms of migration, adding that migration ought to happen out of aspiration, not desperation.

Chukwulaka said that the EU was working in all areas of migration in Nigeria, including migration management, labour migration, irregular migration, return and reintegration, mobility and international protection.