A fresh batch of 162 Nigerians, including four pregnant women, have voluntarily returned from Libya with the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The Coordinator, Lagos Zonal Office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Idris Muhammed, confirmed the development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos, said the Nigerians arrived at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 3.30a.m on board a chartered Libyan Airlines aircraft.
He said the returnees comprised of 100 females, including four pregnant women and 62 males.The coordinator, while welcoming the returnees, urged them to be agents of positive change by joining the campaign against irregular migration.
“Migration is protected by International and national statutes for movement of people through proper regularisation of papers that will protect and save you against risks of irregular migrations,” Muhammed said.
He disclosed that NEMA recently hosted a team from European Union on monitoring and evaluation of the special EU intervention on assisted voluntary return of migrants.
According to him, NEMA interfaced with them on the ways of improving the present EU Assisted Voluntary Returnees programme being run by IOM.He said gaps were identified, especially on logistics.
Muhammed said that efforts were being put in place to close such gaps to make the process much smoother for the stakeholders and the returnees.He said the exercise, which began in April 2017, is expected to end by April, 2020.
According to him, no fewer than 8,808 returnees have so far been repatriated back home to Nigeria from the volatile North African country.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior Lt Gen (rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau has said that Nigeria is collaborating with UNHCR through the Technical Working Group to actualize the voluntary repatriation of the refugees in safety and dignity.
Gen. Dambazau disclosed this during the opening ceremony of the Technical Session of the Second Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin holding in Abuja, according to a press release signed by Mohammed Manga Director Press & Public Relations of the ministry.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Mohammed Bello Umar, the Minister said, in line with international best practices, biometric capturing of IDPs/Nigerian returnees from Chad, Cameroon and Niger was conducted before resettling them.
While enumerating the Federal Government’s achievements on the 2016 action statement, Gen. Dambazau stated that government has ensured ongoing capacity building workshops on strengthening state actors’ response to sexual and gender based violence, sexual agencies in four states which are: “Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno and Gombe”.
He said further that a tripartite agreement for voluntary repatriation of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon was signed in March 2017, adding that Nigerian military and para-military agencies have collaborated in providing escorts to and during relief material distribution in the affected areas.
Gen. Dambazau emphasized that a lot was being done to provide care, maintenance and livelihoods support to refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in different parts of the country.
In her speech at the occasion, the Federal Commissioner for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq said that the Commission has increased the pace of registration, documentation and addressing of nationality issues of affected persons, adding “especially the new arrivals from Cameroon”.
Hajiya Farouq said “We have equally developed the Convention Travel Document for Refugees to take the routine refugees status determination to a higher level. We have established new field offices and expanded existing ones in the six geopolitical zones of the country in order to enhance our capacity to provide protection and support services to persons of concern wherever they may be in Nigeria,” she said.
Mrs Farouq noted that significant progress has been made in ending the Boko Haram insurgency.According to her, Nigeria had demonstrated its commitment to implementing the Abuja Action Summit.
The Abuja Action Statement on Protection was declared and adopted in June 2016 .Four nations in the Lake Chad Basin region namely: Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon Republics, under the technical facilitation of the UNHCR jointly agreed to address the needs of refugees.
The four nations agreed to proactively enhance protection and respond to the urgent needs of refugees, IDPs and other affected populations in the region.