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Japa: More Nigerians migrated abroad in 2023 – IOM

The United Nations migration body, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has disclosed that more Nigerians migrated abroad in 2023. The IOM Chief of Mission…

The United Nations migration body, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has disclosed that more Nigerians migrated abroad in 2023.

The IOM Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Mr. Laurent De Boeck, disclosed this during a media parley on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, no fewer than 260,000 Nigerians approached the IOM for assistance to leave the country in 2023.

“This 2023 number is the highest number we have ever had. We know now that those people have requested visas but they did it in a regular way which is positive.

“The UK is the number one destination for those 260,000 who came to us. It represents 80 per cent. The rest is the United States, Canada, Australia and some other European countries,” he said.

De Boeck said the IOM was in a discussion with Italy which had expressed an interest in developing regular pathways for qualified Nigerians who can fill up certain positions in the country.

He added that there were plans for discussions with Spain, Belgium, France and other countries as well.

The IOM Chief however predicted a decrease in the number of Nigerians leaving for America and Europe in 2024 as a result of strict policies being adopted by some countries.

“We expect that the number may decrease next year because of some decisions taken by some states,” he said, adding that Canada had effected new regulations for migrants from 2024, while the UK had also reduced the number of people entering the country.

“We expect that from 2024, there will be a decline in capacity to enter some countries in Europe because of the elections”, he added, saying politicians were campaigning to reduce migration to their respective countries.

Meanwhile, De Boeck has raised the alarm that more Nigerians were migrating from Kano irregularly.

“We have seen an increase of migrants in Kano which was a creation of the pressure from the people displaced from Kano itself or the region and we have found some youths coming from Taraba who ended up in Kano.

“There are some active smugglers and traffickers in Kano”, informing that the IOM was ready to combat them while also talking to the youth on employability and skills acquisition as alternatives to irregular migration.

“That is why we are developing what we call a ‘regular pathway’ to ensure that people if they want to migrate, can use the regular way,” he said.

FG cautions Nigerians

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has cautioned Nigerian youths against opting for irregular routes while migrating abroad.

The Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRMI), Aliyu Ahmed Tijjani, gave this warning while speaking in Abuja after a roadwork to mark the 2023 International Migrants Day.

Represented by the Director of Migration Affairs, NCRMI, Ambassador Catherine Udida, he also warned Nigerian youths to get themselves abreast with relevant information about their country of destination before embarking on their journey.

“Migration is a human right, so everybody has a right to migrate but what the national commission is saying is that if you must migrate, you must migrate regularly.

“You must have your right documentation, you must get all the information you need to migrate, and you must ignore stories that it is easy to make it abroad,” he said.

He noted that the theme for this year: “Act today for a better tomorrow for all: Improving the health of migrants to unleash the power of migration”, was carefully chosen to address the youths.

Tijjani said Nigeria is made up of almost 70 per cent of the youthful population, stressing that most of those who migrate are in that category.

He urged them to approach the Migrants’ Resource Centres across the country to get all the information needed to migrate regularly.

The International Migrants Day is dedicated to celebrating migrants all over the world.