Galindo Jorge, the Public Information Officer of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria, explains the vision and intervention of the body towards solving migration related crisis in Nigeria. TheLead Team led by Ajibola Abayomi anchors the interview. Excerpts…
Human trafficking is one of the challenges involved in migration affairs, does IOM have solutions or remedy to this?
IOM Nigeria has been engaged in efforts to combat human trafficking to protect and assist victims of trafficking since 2001. Additionally, the Organization has developed significant expertise in the identification, protection, assistance, referral, and case management for trafficked persons. IOM works closely with NAPTIP, UNODC, as well as with other international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and development partners to assist vulnerable migrants including Victims of Trafficking and Unaccompanied Migrant Children. Our programming is all-encompassing, not only focusing on direct assistance but also on policy and technical guidance, capacity building and training, prevention and protection, and cross-cutting research, monitoring and evaluation. We are working together to assist the Government of Nigeria in achieving SDG 10.7.
From your experience, what do you think is fueling human trafficking particularly in Nigeria?
This depends on the context, for instance, in north-east Nigeria one of the prevailing obstacles to uncovering violations, identifying victims and quantifying the overall scale of trafficking is that victims rarely self-identify or self-report, for fear of stigmatization or lack of access to reporting mechanisms. A fear of repercussions also often deters people who witness trafficking. The ongoing conflict and displacement exacerbate the risk of trafficking, especially for female and child-headed households, unaccompanied and separated children and youth. These groups are at high risk of gender-based violence, abduction and recruitment in armed groups. More than 130,000 people have been displaced in north-east Nigeria since January 2019, increasing the population of already stretched camps. As thousands of people lack shelter, they are forced to sleep in the open air in overcrowded camps which further increases their vulnerability to protection risks and exploitation.
Any assistance to help track human traffickers and what will you suggest as precautions for the public?
Prevention and protection are key components of our work in the country. IOM Nigeria aims to address the root causes of vulnerability to trafficking through programming at the individual, household and family, community, and structural levels. Our research focuses on human trafficking routes and trends, the causes and consequences of human trafficking both for the individual trafficked person as well as on how to deliver the best possible assistance and ensure sustainable reintegration opportunities for victims. Being that IOM strives to ensure that reintegration is sustainable, IOM strives to provide individual care to victims of trafficking (ensuring to address their vulnerability needs and any other needs they may have). While much of this work has been done at national level, IOM increasingly collects and analyzes data on human trafficking from the regional perspective to better support cooperation between states in combating the cross-border trade.
The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) for the month of May indicated signal on impending famine in Nigeria especially in the north east giving migration record in Adamawa and Borno states, beyond the statistics, what intervention is your organization making to assist the nation?
Since the escalation of violence from Non-State Armed Groups (NSAG), IOM has provided support to thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs), host communities and other migrants. IOM Nigeria’s Emergency Programme is implemented across the primary sectors of assistance and the organization has assumed leadership roles within the humanitarian community. The longstanding presence and extensive capacity of IOM in Nigeria make it a central actor in the continuing crisis response. We work to provide shelter, mental health and psycho-social support, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene services to displaced populations and at host communities, as well as coordination support to manage camps for internally displaced persons in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
Giving the harsh reactions to migrants particularly the north African countries, what efforts are you making to help decongest the migrant detention camps apart from facilitating voluntary returnees?
Allow me to note that conditions for migrants in countries such as Libya may vary but IOM is calling for the immediate closure of detention centres in the country.
IOM impact on returnees in Nigeria is very commendable, how well are you monitoring the funds being disbursed to the victims to avoid people taking unnecessary advantage of it?
IOM provides in-kind reintegration packages depending on the needs of returnees as opposed to cash grants. This includes provision of a) Individual reintegration: Provided to returnees for the development of income generating activities but also when relevant, for training, medical support, housing support or any other support needed, depending on the profile of the migrant. (b) Collective reintegration: This is provided when several returnees come together and pool their individual reintegration assistance to implement an income generating activity that will be sustainable to them. (C) Community-based reintegration: This is provided as part of connecting returning migrants and members of their community to a community project which will provide job opportunities for both returning migrants and their community members. With the community-based reintegration projects, the aim is to also minimize stigma/discrimination that returning migrants face when they return to their communities. (This in-kind assistance is monitored as outlined in Question #8).
Based on your needs assessment, what have you recommended to the Nigerian government concerning re-union and post communal reception of the returnees?
IOM seeks to work within existing national frameworks and partners by supporting national migration policies to facilitate the identification, referral, and protection and assistance of trafficked persons, and improvements to anti-trafficking legislation and regulations and specifically their implementation in Nigeria. We support the Government of Nigeria by strengthening operational guidelines and agreements in line with the National Referral Mechanism for the Protection and Assistance to Trafficking Persons in Nigeria (NRM), and in coordination with relevant actors, to ensure timely and effective referral of migrants who need protection and assistance. We provide capacity building support to service-delivery partners, including safe houses and rehabilitation shelters, to ensure the provision of comprehensive and specialized care available to all vulnerable migrants.
How well has IOM monitored that?
Routine monitoring is carried out for beneficiaries who have received voluntary return and reintegration assistance. Surveys to assess the performance of the assisted voluntary return and reintegration programme and beneficiary’s satisfaction is carried out 0-1 months after the return. Surveys to assess the performance of reintegration assistance and beneficiaries satisfaction is carried out 9-12 months after return. Reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities, and psychosocial well-being that allow them to cope with (re)migration drivers. In order to monitor and evaluate this effort, a sustainability survey is conducted evaluating returnees along the economic, social, and psychosocial dimensions. This survey is carried out 12-18 months after return.
What preventive measures does IOM has to help reduce irregular migration both from and to Nigeria?
IOM implements various awareness raising interventions in coordination with the Federal Government of Nigeria and civil society actors. Preventive measures have focused on irregular migration along the central Mediterranean route, some of the approaches include: Community Dialogue: Interactive participatory communication process of sharing information between people or groups of people aimed at reaching a common understanding and workable solution. IEC materials: The use of IEC materials such as posters, wristbands, stickers, etc, in sensitizing potential migrants, returnees and community members on safe migration practices and the risks of irregular migration in a fun and entertaining way. Community theatre: The use of arts and theatre in sensitizing the potential migrants ,and community members safe migration practices and the risks of irregular migration in a fun and entertaining way; Radio and TV and Peer to Peer education
What are the activities of IOM in the offing aimed at improving migration enlightenment in Nigeria?
Besides providing direct assistance to returnees including individuals with identified vulnerabilities such as victims of trafficking, we have projects in place aimed at sensitizing the public through various means of communication. We engage with communities via radio, community theatre, television as well as information, education and communication materials (IECs). In this endeavor we cannot stress enough the important role that journalists and Nigerian media play in sharing accurate information and positive messages about migration. Therefore, we conduct regular dialogues with journalists and editors to keep abreast on latest migration trends, terminology and related issues.