Migration is the movement of persons from their place of usual residence and across international borders to a country of which they are not national, usually for the benefit of all – country of destination and country of origin.
Such movement which are due to different factors could be immidiate or remote and could regular or irregular.
Irregular migration is that movement which takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and destination country. Those who migrate are call migrants.
A migrants is any person who is moving or has moved across international borders or within a state, away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, cause (s) of the movement and whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary.
Recently, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) organised a training programme for selected journalists in the print, radio, television and digital media spread across different states of Nigeria.
This was within the framework and understanding of the role of the media in information dissemination
The three days training held in the FCT, Abuja was part of IOM awareness raising interventions designed to create positive behavioral change among potential migrants, their families and friends to make safe and informed migration related decisions and promote the positive impact returning migrants bring to their home communities.
Beyond awareness raising, the training was aimed at building the capacity of participants in providing legal, ethical and well informed migration related reporting, with focus on data analysis and reporting, migration and challenges of COVID-19, interviewing migrants and their families, especially vulnerable migrants, social media, migration and technology, migration terminologies, human rights, mental health psychosocial support in reporting, gender and migration, as well as working with editors in migration reporting, among others.
It was also aimed at equipping them with the requisite knowledge to adequately situate migration related matters in the public domain, besides being a platform to strengthen existing partnership between IOM and the media organisations.
Also, in line with the concept of bridging capacity gap in reporting on migration, the Civil Society Network on Migration and Development (CSOnetMADE) organised a 2-day Capacity Building Workshop for Media Agencies on Migration Reportage in the South-South region of Nigeria.
It was a follow up to a similar one in the South-East and North-West, with a prospect of another in the North-Central.
It was in recognition of the fact that in the context of migration, the media are crucial in delivering verified information, informed opinion, as well as balanced and incisive narrative.
CSOnetMADE believes that the madia contribute and shape public, political perception on all aspects of life, including migration.
For instance, such perception portrays migration as a problem, rather than a multi-faceted global phenomenon, with a variety of challenges and opportunities.
Nowadays, migration is largely illustrated by scenes of boat crowded with migrants risking their lives to reach Europe.
It believes that the media reportage and use of concepts in reporting these scenario have not always been done with appropriate terminologies and understanding of the core migration concern, a development which presented some challenges for policy makers and service providers to effectively respond to the situation.
The fundamental questions that arose from the 2-day workshop were, how are
migration issues reported and documented by Nigerian media? How do the media portray migrants and migration? Are madiamen/women properly trained and equipped to report migration related matters?
To CSOnetMADE, “It is imperative for the media to understand migration issues if they, as relevant stakeholder of the Nigeria migration management mechanism must add value to migration governance and awareness creation on regular and irregular migration.”
Few days later, IOM organised a Town Hall meeting with key stakeholders for the purpose of establishing ways and links on how to integrate migration discussions in schools so as to bring about increased knowledge and awareness on the risk of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
It was also meant to promote the tenets of safe migration practices, as well as provide avenue for social cohesion for returned migrants to reduce stigma and help them reintegrate into the society.
The key stakeholders included the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Edo State Ministry of Education, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Private School Owners Association and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Town Hall meeting is one of the numerous avenues through which Migrants as Messengers (MaM), a project facilitated by IOM engages key stakeholders in communities to proffer solutions aimed at addressing the challenges of migration.
MaM is a migrants centered approach to awareness raising – giving returned migrants opportunity to share their experiences, with IOM providing the platform.
It is a peer to peer awareness raising campaign through volunteer returned migrants to empower young people in Nigeria and some other West Africa countries to make informed decisions.
Town Hall meeting also provide a platform for returned migrants to showcase their contributions toward addressing irregular migration by promoting safe and orderly migration, as well as sharing experiences and information as to opportunities in their home communities.
The move by IOM, though novel, is a demonstration of commitment to working with different cadre of journalists in promoting safe migration, telling stories of returnees and the benefits of migration without prejudice to the fact that migration also has its negative side.
As the United Nations Migration Agency, IOM in collaboration with other stakeholders between April 2017 and January 2021 facilitated the voluntary return of 17,359 Nigerians migrants from 22 countries, including Libya, Niger, Mali and other transit/destination countries.
The figure is made up of 10,141 males and 7,218 females. A further breakdown of the figure indicated that 12,667 returnees were between the 18 and 35 years; 2,436 were between 36 and 45 years; 1,640 were between 0 and 12 years; 363 were between 46 and 53 years; 153 were between 13 and 17 years while 100 were between 54 and 66 years.
Of the total figure, Edo State has the highest figure of 38.1 percent, followed by Delta, 22.6 percent and Ogun State with 6 percent.
They were provided with immidiate protection and reintegration under the EU-IOM Initiative for Migrants Protection and Reintegration.
IOM also act with its partners in the International and local communities to assist in meeting operational challenges of migration, advance understanding of migration issues as well as encourage social and economic development.
However, since 2001 when IOM began operation, it has been in the vanguard of, not only promoting safe migration, it has also assisted migrants find meaning in life.
Through behavioral Change Communication (BCC) campaigns, outreaches, media reports, IOM seeks to equip vulnerable migrants with the information they need to migrate safely and access assistance when necessary, hence the setting up of three Migrants Resource Centre, each in Abuja, Lagos and Benin City in Edo State.
The centers offer free information services on migration options to empower potential Nigerian Labour Migrants make informed decisions.
IOM offers Technical Support for the implementation of Labour Migration policy Action Plan which aims at managing labour migration and mobilising diaspora for international development.
It helped review the National Labour Migration Policy and the National Policy on Migration to ensure that emerging migration issues were well captured and facilitated the high level meeting that led to the adoption of draft and final policies.
IOM aims to address the root causes of vulnerability to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants through engagement with the media and targeted interventions at the individual, household, commmunity and structural levels.
For instance, it provides mental health psychosocial support and counseling, not only to returned migrants, but to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
More often than not, the most vulnerable get additional support through reintegration assistance.
A case in point is one Sandra (not real name), an AVR after four years harrowing experience in Libya courtesy of IoM presently operates an hair dressing saloon in the outskirt of Benin City.
She disclosed to this writer that barely few months after her return, not been able to integrate speedily and in what seems to her as IoM delay in assisting her with empowerment tools, set out to return to Libya, but for the later and timely intervention by IoM with empowerment tools worth over #800,000.
Today, she operates a thriving hair dressing saloon.
AVR (Assisted Voluntary Returnee) include those who traveled for economic reasons, unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking. IoM assist them with travel logistics and flights. Many receive protection support as well.
Over the years, and based on partnership, IoM has supported efforts of Nigeria government to manage migration, while strong collaboration has established with stakeholders on migration, both nationally and internationally in order to enhance border management, fight human trafficking, reduce irregular migration and mainstream migration policy decisions.
Its migration policy based research contributes to evidenced-based policies on migration that address the needs of migrants and supports the national capacity to address them.
As at today, IOM is a reputed UN agency that promotes migration policies and legislation which are coherent, comprehensive and in line with national realities and which correspond to international norms and good practices.
It is a leading and accredited inter-governmental organisation working with migrants and government to respond to contemporary migration challenges. It is well positioned to build on its grassroots experience and provide guidance on migration policy. It provides information, advice and support to further the efforts of its stakeholders to develop effective national, regional and global migration management policies and strategies, as well as contributes to increased dialogue between migration stakeholders at bilateral, regional and global levels.