The Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, (MEPN) has said more than 750 Nigerians have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in an illegal migration move to Europe.
The group said more may have even died across the Sahara desert and transit countries to Europe.
Speaking on the sidelines of an awareness effort on the risks of irregular migration tagged “Stakeholders’ Roundtable Dialogue on Migration,” Mr. Femi Awoniyi, Publisher of the Germany-based The African Courier magazine and co-director of MEPN said between January and end of June this year, about 1,500 Africans were drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, many of them are Nigerian. “This is not even counting those who have died travelled around the Sahara Desert or in the transit countries,” he added.
He said the rising human cost on irregular migration puts a duty on everyone to do something. “That is why we conceived the Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, (MEPN) to raise public awareness on the dangers and risks of irregular migration” he said.
He said “Irregular migration is driven by false perception about life in the Diaspora. We want to save lives because Nigerians are dying every day from irregular migration. It also causes reputational damage for Nigeria as a country,” he noted.
He also noted that irregular migration is costing Nigeria a great deal of reputational damage and investors.
“When irregular migrants are reported in the news that they are from Nigeria, it sends the signal that something is wrong with Nigeria and this discourages investors and tourists” he said.
He agreed that whilst Nigeria may have its challenging environment, it is not a bed of roses either abroad.
“Every country has its own challenges. We have a lot of things going right for us in Nigeria though we also have our challenges but things could get better. A situation where young people are continuously led to their death is what we should discourage,” he noted.
In his welcome address, Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), said the aim of the MEPN, a diaspora initiative, was to save lives as Nigeria could no longer afford to ignore the enormous costs that irregular migration was exacting on the nation.