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Japa: Enugu to Partner IOM to Resettle Returnee Irregular Migrants

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Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has expressed the readiness of the government to partner with the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, to ensure the safe return, resettlement, and reintegration of irregular and stranded migrants from the state.

Mbah said the government would also help the IOM secure a zonal office in Enugu so that such returnees could come home directly and be rehabilitated in Enugu rather than be taken to other states, adding that the radical social programmes introduced by the government would be handy in equipping such returnees with skills to make a decent living.

This also came on a day the IOM revealed that it had helped 350 stranded and irregular immigrants of Enugu State extraction, mostly from Libya and Niger Republic, to return home safely.

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Mbah spoke on Monday when he received at the Government House, Enugu, a delegation of the IOM in Nigeria led by the Chief of Mission, Laurent De Boeck. He commended the IOM for its role in mitigating the challenges faced by irregular migrants, including victims of trafficking and exploitation.

“As a government, we are quite ready to collaborate with you in the areas of integration of these victims and also those who may just be stranded abroad and interested in coming back home, to be reintegrated into their home state.

“We have a lot of programmes that we have also designed as a state to cater for the welfare and wellbeing of our people. We have several radical programmes in the social services sector. Whether it is in education and healthcare, the government is involved in indepth programmes that will impact the lives of our people, including such returnees.

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“Meanwhile, it should not be a case that if our people are to be brought back from outside the country, they would be kept in Lagos or elsewhere. I think they should be brought back to Enugu and we should be able to have at least a transit camp where they can stay and undergo counselling and get reintegrated. Therefore, we are also more than happy to work with you to have a zonal office in Enugu, as I was made to understand you are interested in securing one.

He also expressed the readiness of the administration to partner with IOM to tap into the positive side of migration by harnessing the state’s diaspora material and human resources for the good of both themselves and the state.

“You know that we have a lot of programmes, which we believe will attract the diasporans. One is our Disapora Bond, which we hope to launch sometime in April this year.

“We believe that there are quite a lot of values that the disaporans can bring to our economy beyond remittances for consumption. So, if we are able to design an investment that can guarantee or secure their investment and also show some returns, we know that it will be attractive to them. This is why we are investing in the Enugu State Diaspora Investment Summit to raise awareness and tap into the consciousness of our people”, he added.

Speaking earlier, the IOM Chief of Mission, De Boeck, said the main activity of the IOM in the state was in the area of ensuring the “return and reintegration of young, able people, who left the country.”

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“For years, we have worked with some of our offices abroad and in other countries where we have identified Enugu people, who were stranded or were victims of smugglers and traffickers. And in this regard, we have organised their return and reintegration.

“We have returned 350 people so far to Enugu. Our offices in Libya and Niger Republic are where we have identified most of them. We have more of them in the plane coming back to Lagos, and we will look at the manifest to know if there is still any person from Enugu State among them, and we will activate their return,” he stated.

De Boeck commended the Mbah administration for the initiatives to tap into successful Nigerians in diaspora, assuring of the organisation’s readiness to assist in this respect given their rich data base and contacts with Nigerian professionals, businessmen and women, students, among others, across the world.

As part of a strategy to discourage irregular migration, the IOM Chief said the organisation was working on developing avenues on how to help Nigerians to migrate abroad, regularly, with a proper condition for safe jobs and proper conditions and dignity in their host countries.

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