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Group seeks increased consular support for stranded Nigerians in Libya, others

A Germany-based group, the Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) has called on the federal government to significantly increase consular support to Nigerian irregular migrants in…

A Germany-based group, the Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) has called on the federal government to significantly increase consular support to Nigerian irregular migrants in transit and destination countries.

In an emailed statement to our correspondent signed by Kenneth Gbandi and Femi Awoniyi, co-directors of the MEPN, the group said thousands of Nigerians are still stranded in detention camps in Libya.

According to the group, the ensuing desperation makes most migrants take reckless risks to escape and in the process exposed to “exploitation and often horrendous human rights abuse”.

“This explains why many migrants still take the suicidal risk of boarding rickety boats in their bid to cross the Mediterranean to safety in Europe, which is why migrants continue to die daily in the Mediterranean Sea”, the statement said.

The group noted that more than 2,000 migrants, many of whom are Nigerians, have drowned in recent times.

It observed that Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Taher Siala recently admitted that its detention facilities still held many sub-Saharan migrants whom the country did not know what to do with.

According to MEPN, Siala estimated that around 30,000 irregular migrants were currently held in detention centres in Libya “and around 750,000 outside”.

The group further added that stranded migrants, especially those in transit, “are left totally to the mercy of the very traffickers who took them to their precarious situation”.

The MEPN reiterated its call on Nigerian Government to demand access to Nigerians detained in Libya and make renewed effort in collaboration with international organisations to repatriate them back home.

It added, “The time has come for ECOWAS member states to collaborate on a common contingency plan that will enable the bloc‘s citizens in distress in North African countries to get assistance from any member state’s embassy or consulate.

“Such collaboration will reinforce the protection of ECOWAS’s citizens and will be a strong sign of community solidarity.

“If irregular migrants are provided the necessary consular protection, more lives could be saved, say experts.

“In view of the suffering of irregular migrants and the dangers that most are exposed to in the different transit countries in which they’re presently stranded, the time for Nigeria and ECOWAS to act is now,” the statement added.

The MEPN is currently carrying out a campaign to promote a greater awareness of the risks and dangers of irregular migration in Nigeria.

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