The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Ketil Karlsen, has said that efforts by the Edo State Government to stem human trafficking have resulted in the state dropping from first to sixth position, among originating sources of illegal migrants to Europe.
Commending the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led government’s approach to addressing the menace, the ambassador said: “They are a model as well as a strategic place to work in, as Nigeria tackles the scourge.”
Karlsen said this after an inspection tour to different locations in Benin City, the Edo capital, where migrant returnees would be sheltered and trained.
The Obaseki-led government has sustained a mix of strategies, ranging from institutional, sensitisation campaign, reintegration of returnees and empowerment programmes, amongst others, in tackling the menace.
The ambassador said it was encouraging to see many activities geared towards addressing irregular migration taking place in the state, adding, “This is my third visit to Edo State and it will not be the last because, for us, Edo is a strategic place to work in. I must say; this is a model for engagement, where we build on local and state government’s leadership.”
“We will bring together all the partners of the international communities to support them; we are working with the World Bank and other development partners to make sure we support the vision that the Edo government is pursuing,” he said.
He noted that the EU was committed to seeing that the migrant returnees were well integrated into the country as well as ensuring that the root causes of the menace are tackled.
According to him, “Seeing what is being done through the leadership of the Edo State government and talking with the returnees and young people in the state, we have gotten insight into how we can support them better now and even in the future.”
The EU ambassador was accompanied on the tour by Programme Manager, Managing Migration through Development Programme, (MMDP), Dr. May Ikeora, and Senior Special Assistant to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Job Creation and Skills Development, Mrs. Ukinebo Dare.
Managing Director, LAPO Micro Finance Bank, Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, said the returnees need empowerment to be fully be integrated into the society.
He added that LAPO has in the last 15 years engaged in returnees’ reintegration programme by collaborating with different development partners.
He added, “We believe that we should be a part of the returnees’ programme by empowering them with skills so that they can make better lives for themselves.”
The sites visited include the Edo State Government’s proposed shelter site for migrant returnees, LAPO institute, where migrant returnees are being trained on business opportunities and the Edo Innovation Hub.