The European Union (EU) has said with improved standard of living in most African countries, citizens would not be desperate to leave their countries and migrate to places where they feel they would leave better lives.
Owing to this, the EU, through political dialogue and development cooperation, is supporting Nigeria to improve its capacity to deal with drivers of irregular migration, including the long-term and structural root causes and forced displacement.
It is also working closely with local communities to create alternatives to migrant-smuggling based economies and to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants, according to the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen.
In April 2017, the European Union, through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), launched the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Within the framework of the Joint Initiative, 12, 974 stranded Nigerians migrants have been assisted to return to the country, including 1,158 in 2019. The Initiative, which is wholly funded by the European Union, aims to improve migrant protection, voluntary return and reintegration and this is being implemented by the IOM, in close collaboration with the Nigerian government.
The Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa is anchored on the principles of saving lives and protecting and assisting migrants along the migration routes. It employs actions that are rights-based and protection-focused, to ensure the dignity and safety of the assisted people in line with international standards. Also, through its policy and capacity building actions, the Initiative ensures that the migration process is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities of origin.
"Saving and protecting the lives of migrants and refugees, breaking the business model of smugglers and traffickers and providing legal pathways, while addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement are at the very heart of the EU's policy," Karlsen, said in Lagos recently.
He spoke few days after the 64th charter flight brought back Nigerian returnees arrived the county.
Insisting that the EU does not want to stop migration, Karlsen said, "What we want to stop is dangerous, unprotected, and exploitative forms of migration. Migration should happen out of aspiration, not desperation."
The EU is working in all areas of migration in Nigeria, including migration management, labour migration, irregular migration, return and reintegration, mobility and international protection.