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EDITORIAL

Dignity For Migrants

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Across the world, migration has become one of the most problematic international phenomena of late. At the moment,  the number of international migrants has risen to about 258 million.

Another plank is internal migration. It is estimated that 40 million people are presently internally displaced by conflict, and each year millions of others are forced from their homes by climate-related disasters and natural hazards, according to Antonio Vitorino who is the director general, International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Indeed, last year saw a mass  exodus of people from one region of the world to another due mainly to economic reasons. Economic migrants move to other countries where they believe they can have a better life.

A lot of the migration concerned sub-Sahara Africa where thousands of migrants put their lives at great risk to cross the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in order to get to Europe in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

Thousands of other migrants also fled the crisis in Syria and other unstable countries in the Middle East and moved  into Europe for safety, almost overwhelming the continent.

Countries like Germany were known to have taken in most of these migrants. Germany is said to be the second most popular migration destination after the United States. Of all the 27 European Union states, Germany is reported as having the second highest percentage of immigrants in its population after the United Kingdom. According to the United Nations, by 2017, about 14.8 percent of people living in Germany were immigrants.

Some other countries have not been so welcoming to foreigners, often  putting in place stricter laws aimed at keeping migrants at bay. Italy was a popular abode for migrants, but recently the country has been kicking against migrants.

Europe’s migration crisis began in 2015, and the number of migrants moving through the Mediterranean peaked at about 41,000 in 2018.

As a result, migration has become the number one concern for voters as the matter has swayed elections in countries such as France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary.

Migrants often face inhumane treatment. A recent case is that of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died on December 8 after crossing the border and while in the custody of US government. She was reported to have died less than 48 hours after she was detained by Customs and Border Patrol at a remote border crossing in New Mexico. She was said to have fallen ill and was not quickly given medical attention.

Also, there has been several reports of the maltreatment, torture, enslavement and killing of migrants trying to reach Europe through  Libya, with many of the victims Nigerians.

Last year, the federal government repatriated over 10,000 Nigerian migrants who had got trapped in slave camps in Libya. An estimate of 34,361 deaths have been recorded as a result of migration. Last year alone, about 3,400 migrants and refugees lost their lives worldwide. Most died trying to reach Europe by sea when their boats capsized. Some perished attempting to cross deserts or pass through dense forests seeking safety far from official border crossings, while others died in detention blocks and asylum units as well as factories and town centres, where locals and security agents sometimes attacked them.

As a newspaper,  we urge political and military leaders in countries where long time insecurity is leaving nationals with little option but to flee to other countries to strive for peace and do all within their power to resolve the conflicts amicably. For the more insecurity besets a nation, the more the population will seek to move to other safer places in order to save their lives and those of their loved ones.

The issue of economic migrants signposts the failure of governance in most developing countries, especially in Africa. Often, successive governments in such countries do not initiate and execute policies that make life worth living for their country men. Greedy and self serving political elite corner the common wealth of the people for their citizens aggrandisement, leaving the masses in penury.

We hereby remind countries whose nationals are fleeing to other nations that they have a duty to stop the trend by making their countries liveable for their people. They can start by ensuring a just and equitable distribution of state resources, rather than concentrating them in the hands of a privileged few.

It is our considered opinion that migrants deserve to be treated with dignity. Apart from a few bad eggs with sinister motives,  most of them would not have considered leaving the comfort of their homes if not for insecurity and lack of opportunities as a result of poor governance.  Their host countries have a duty to respect and enforce their inalienable human rights.


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