Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday challenged the international community to collaborate more with the federal government in ending the menace of irregular migration and human trafficking in the country.
He pointed out that international summit which focuses on the crisis in Syria is also required in Nigeria adding that “it is a silent holocaust of African humanity unfolding and that cannot be allowed to go on.”
Bukola made the assertion at the Senate Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking held in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
“We are not comforted by the international community raising alarm about the large numbers of our citizens within their borders. While Nigeria should collaborate with destination countries, we should also join in undertaking a mutual enquiry as to whether those nations themselves do not compound the problem with some of their policies.
“We make bold to ask our international partners: what have you done and what are the sincere and humane steps taken to bring an end to this crisis? You certainly can do more to collaborate with us because whether we like it or not, you also have a responsibility in this matter. We have seen international summits on Syria, for example.
“ But what we are seeing here is also worthy of international intervention. This is a silent holocaust of African humanity unfolding, and it cannot be allowed to go on. It simply cannot be allowed to go on.”
Saraki lamented that Nigeria is ranked 23 on the Global Slavery Index of 167 countries and that there is need to put a stop to it.
“The theme centres on Irregular Migration – which some refer to as Illegal Migration – and Human Trafficking; two issues that have become a bane of our existence as a nation. Nigeria currently ranks 23 on the Global Slavery Index of 167 countries with the highest number of slaves. Human trafficking is third in the ignoble hierarchy of the commonly occurring crimes in Nigeria, according to UNESCO.
“ Irregular migration has been a disastrous development for our continent; and the stark realisation becomes even more so, when we narrow the focus to Nigeria – which accounts for the world’s highest number of irregular migrants going through the Agadez Route.
“Our citizens represent the fifth largest number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe; and the number of females arriving in Italy alone increased 600-fold in just three years”, he said.
He commended the federal government for taking the bold step in repatriating Nigerians stranded in Libya.
In his welcome address, Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said his government has been proactive in dealing with the issues of irregular migration and human trafficking.
He added that the decision to host the delegation was because of the alarming scourge of human trafficking and irregular migration currently experienced in the state.
Obaseki said the Edo State government considered it as modern day slavery and strange to the culture of the people of the state.
He, however, expressed optimism that the outcome of the roundtable meeting would be able to stem the ugly tide in the state and in the country at large.
Also speaking, the minister of Defence, Abdulraham Danbazzau said Edo State is not the only state battling with the problem of irregular migration and human trafficking revealing that Kano State also suffers same fate.
He said migration in itself is not bad, as money running into several billions has been remitted to the country by Nigerian migrants abroad, adding that one major concern is the trans-borders criminals who exploit and subject the migrants to horrible experiences.
The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen said that in 2017, about 187,000 irregular migrants were registered while Nigeria is having 16 percent of those who are traveling to Libya.
He said they are ready to provide the needed assistance to end irregular migration and human trafficking adding that 47 million Euros has been committed to assist countries to end the scourge of human trafficking and irregular migration across the African continent.
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