BENIN CITY – An exhibition themed: ” Speaking Through Arts” under the auspices of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has held in Benin City, Edo State.

The exhibition which was meant to acquaint the public with the potential risks associated with irregular migration showcased the paintings of returned migrants.

It was a visual representation of the experiences of returned migrants which unravel the strategies used by traffickers to lure unsuspecting victims.

It was part of IOM’S awareness raising activities through Migrants as Messengers (MaM), a peer-to-peer advocacy project where returned migrants help to promote safe migration.

According to IOM Project Assistant, Elijah Elaigwu, the exhibition was designed as a Behavioral Change Communication (BCC) strategy where victims of irregular migration who do not have the language that can adequately convey their experiences or those who might be afraid or ashamed to talk about their experiences or story can through painting, crafted arts, spoken words or poetry, photography, graphics, and African theatre narrate their ordeal to the wider society.

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He said that the 11 participants undergone a three day training which climaxed the fourth day with the exhibition.

He expressed the hope that the training would define a career path for them, while they carry on with the skills acquired to earn a living for themselves, adding that IOM is always open to support their activities.

A Senior Project Assistant, IOM, Mr Aigbeze Uhimwen in his remarks, said that returned migrants are the best avenue to to tell their stories, adding that the exhibition reenforces the organisation’s belief.

The Permanent Secretary, Edo State Ministry of Arts and Culture, Itohan Bazuaye lauded the initiative, saying that the state government was pleased to partner IOM on returned migration issues.

The Benin Zonal Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Barr. Chidi Ebere Ororo-Ifudu disclosed that IOM have been a formidable partner over the years and lauded the creativity in the art works.