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Report: 93% of Deportees, Returnees Still Want to Go on Desperate Journeys

Report: 93% of Deportees, Returnees Still Want to Go on Desperate Journeys

Oluchi Chibuzor

A comparative study titled, ‘Irregular Migration, Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery: Challenges of Reintegration of Returnees and Deportees,’ has found out that despite all the stringent and hostile immigration laws of developed countries, 93 per cent of Nigeria’s returnees and deportees still want to go on desperate journeys.

This according to them was the findings of a study where 536 participants across the geopolitical zones of the country were interviewed.
The study revealed that they were often traumatised as most of them were abandoned by family members with no means of livelihood to cope with life after returning back to the country.

However, to cope with the rising challenges and psychological effects they faced, the study proposed that governments should consider building residential homes for the returnees and deportees at capital cities across the country.

Speaking about the research funded by Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) grant, in Lagos, yesterday, the Principal Investigator, Department of Sociology, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. John Oyefara, explained that the research aimed to discover the major drivers of human trafficking and proffers solutions to curb the rising menace across the country.

He said the exact statistics regarding the numbers of irregular migrants out of Nigeria to the global North especially, and to parts of Asia and Africa was unavailable because of its “clandestine nature.”

He also said the consensus however, was that there was a continued upward trajectory since the turn of the century.
According to him, “No thanks to the increasingly stringent/hostile immigration laws of developed countries especially and the activities of traffickers and brokers who deceitfully lure unsuspecting but desperate young people with promises of Eldorado in foreign lands.

“The research has found out that about 93 percent of all the people interviewed still want to embarked on this desperate journey back to Western countries.

“Regional comparison shows that while having to start all over again is a common experience across the zones, stigmatisation is more pronounced in South-South (42.2 percent), North-West (29.5 percent) and South-West (22.8 per cent ). Lack of family support is more pronounced in the South- South (16.7percent) and North-East (11.3 percent).”

Giving a background to the study, member of the team and Associate Professor, Pius Adejoh, said it had become common knowledge that, “Nigeria is not only a source and transit country for victims of human trafficking, but is also fast becoming notorious as a major contributor to the swelling statistics regarding the modern-day slave market globally.

“This is akin to the ‘Japa’ phenomenon which has seen Nigerians escape their country through every imaginable route including by road through the deserts to Libya.”

However, presenting the findings of the research, Dr. Bamidele Alabi, stated that the challenges of re-integration in Nigeria includes harsh economic realities, absence of job opportunities, lack of skill and trade competency, lack of inadequate education and government’s insensitivity.

They however recommended that the government  should provide an enabling environment for youths to thrive and ensure intensive, aggressive and sustained public education, enlightenment and sensitisation against stigmatisation.

“Relevant agencies (NAPTIP, NGO, NEMA, IOM, UNHCR etc) to be charged with rehabilitation and integration responsibilities and adequately empowered concerted efforts to be made to reduce “Naijaphobia” and promote the positive side of Nigeria. Empowerment and skills acquisition programmes to be organised for the returns and reporters and families and communities to be educated on how to accept and assist.”
For another team member, Prof. Chinwe Nwanna, responses and strategies for rehabilitation and re-integration of regular returnees often begin with, “residential approach which enables returnees and deportees to face relevant rehabilitation solutions in a singular location.”

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