The increasing surge of migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa and other parts of the world, mainly into Europe, has become a global threat that requires urgent global attention. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have fled their countries seeking asylum in European countries. About 90% of migrants are usually from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Iran where there are high security risks, insurgency, humanitarian crisis, war, poverty, human rights abuses, among others.
A recent report on Daily Post indicated that from January and April, 2016 the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, has rescued 152 victims of human trafficking in Lagos State. In the report, the Lagos Zonal Commander, Mr. Joseph Famakin said his agency has successfully sent over 276 Nigerians to prison, with 51 cases in the federal and state high courts. He added that there are seven cases in the Court of Appeal and two cases in the Supreme Court. About 316 victims were rescued and brought to Lagos in 2014. While in 2015, a total of 417 victims were rescued.
The Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in its yearly report from January 1, November 13, 2016 stated that an estimated total of 341,055 arrived in some part, of Europe through the Mediterranean Sea while 4,271deaths were recorded. When compared to 2015, from January 1, November 13, there were 728, 926 arrivals and 3,522 deaths recorded. Despite such alarming figures, three million migrants are still expected in the European Union, (EU) in 2017, compared to 1.5 million in 2016.
Migration has the capacity to alter the total demographic, ethnographic, economic, and productive growth of both the emigrants’ home of origin as well as country of arrival. Migration has adverse effects on the host country, whose public utilities may be over-stretched in receiving migrants from other country. It may also affect the income – per – capita (IPC) of the citizens in the host country as well as the public infrastructure that have been designed to serve a certain population.Most Nigerians who brave the stormy seas and unfriendly deserts have lost hope in an economic system that is characterised by poor governance, poor income, unemployment, insecurity, corruption, humanitarian crisis and increasing poverty.
Despite the risk involved, there is high patronage of human traffickers (who charge unimaginable fees, who lure or assist migrants across borders, promising them jobs, education and a better living condition. Many of them, mostly women and children are sold into prostitution, child labour, child marriage and other abuses. Many victims of human trafficking never live to tell their story. They are exposed to harsh terrain, terrible inhuman conditions and denied access to proper life and their fundamental human rights.
The United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs, has stated that since the past six years, a minimum of 60,000 leave the shores of the country yearly. Many of these migrants are sold into prostitution, child labour, and slavery to countries like Libya, Spain, and Italy. In 2016 alone, not less than 162 Nigerians were repatriated from Libya, 41 from USA, and 40 from the UK. Data from the EU indicate that an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, while 22,500 illegally crossed via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016.
The number of international migrants is growing faster than the world’s population. The share of migrants in the global population reached 244 million (3.3%) in 2015 (41% increase in 15 years). While the current average population growing rate in 2016 is estimated at around 80 million (1.13%) per year.
One can safely say that in Nigeria, there is correlation between poverty, corruption, war and migration. The startling record of human rights abuses, poverty, unemployment and insecurity is a major reason there is increase in migration for the past two decades. To reduce the increasing surge of emigrants out of Nigeria, government must tackle the problems of poverty, unemployment, hunger and corruption, that have threatened the peoples’ rights to existence.Government’s determination to guarantee national security, workable policies, at all levels for its citizens will bring about sustainable economic growth and other forms of development. Government should support communities across the country, by improving economic opportunities and empowerment initiatives to the youths. Government and NGOs must develop skill acquisition programmes such as welding, painting, fashion designing and carpentry as well as reintegration assistance for returnees to enable them rebuild their lives and raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration to both children and adults.
Only then can Nigeria boast of a full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We call on all countries to address issues of humanitarian crisis, strengthen the resilience of host communities, consider the vulnerability of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, and implement policies that will eradicate human trafficking.