By Andy Chukwu
The European Union has said Nigeria is now seen globally as a source and destination for sex trafficking, forced labour, transit and trafficking in human organs.
However, the Union expressed its willingness to cooperate with Nigeria through its political dialogue and development cooperation to fight these vices.
Ketil Karlsen, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen, in a statement signed by the union’s press officer, Modestus Chukwulaka, was quoted to has said this on Tuesday, in Lagos, shortly after ”the 64th chartered flight bringing back voluntary Nigerian returnees arrived the country”.
He said the EU is also working closely with local communities to create alternatives to migrant-smuggling based economies and to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants.
”The European Union, through political dialogue and development cooperation, is supporting Nigeria to improve its capacity to deal with drivers of irregular migration, including the long-term and structural root causes and forced displacement.
”It is also working closely with local communities to create alternatives to migrant-smuggling based economies and to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants,” Karlsen said.
He said the EU would work closely on the “structural root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement in Nigeria.
“Saving and protecting the lives of migrants and refugees, breaking the business model of smugglers and traffickers and providing legal pathways, while addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement are at the very heart of the EU’s policy,” he said.
The EU ambassador explained that the EU does not want to stop migration, but “migration should happen out of aspiration, not desperation.
“What we want to stop is dangerous, unprotected, and exploitative forms of migration. Migration should happen out of aspiration, not desperation.
”The EU is working in all areas of migration in Nigeria, including migration management, labour migration, irregular migration, return and reintegration, mobility and international protection.
”Nigeria is a source, transit and destination country for women and children victims of sex trafficking and forced labour in the forms of prostitution, domestic servitude, begging and sometimes trafficking in human organs. The IOM has identified 749 victims of trafficking among the returnees, and more than 3,172 with vulnerabilities.
”The EU is also working on the prevention side in the country of origin as well. Trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants in Nigeria are targeted under new EUR- 10 million programmes focusing on these two issues for five years,” he said.
Karlsen said in April 2017, the European Union, 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).
He said that within the framework of the Joint Initiative, 12,974 stranded Nigerians migrants had been assisted to return to their home country, including 1,158 in 2019.
The EU Ambassador said the initiative, ”which is wholly funded by the EU, aims to improve migrant protection, voluntary return, and reintegration.”