We receive daily news of the suffering of young African migrants seeking better life in Europe through illegal routes. The ordeal that many go through either in the transit countries such as Niger and Libya or during the perilous journeys on rickety boats across the Mediterranean is heart-wrenching.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration reported in July that 1,443 had drowned so far in 2018 as the Mediterranean route remains most lethal. Many more are even believed to have died travelling across the Sahara desert or in the transit countries.

In Libya, for example, there are hundreds of thousands of migrants trapped in transit where they are exposed to hash living conditions and widespread human rights abuses. Some are traded as slaves for ransom, labour or sex by gangs of people-smugglers and many die in the appalling conditions of detention facilities run by both the Libyan authorities and non-state groups.

Nigerians constitute the single largest group of sub-Saharans in Libya. Many of the migrants left the country lured by the false promise of people-smugglers who deceive their victims into paying sometimes thousands of dollars for a passage to Europe.

Nigerians in Europe are deeply disturbed by this situation. This is why African-German Information Center and The African Courier Verlag – both based in Germany – with the support of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, launched the information campaign ‘Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN)’ in 2017.

The objective of the campaign is to raise public awareness of the risks and dangers of irregular migration to Europe. The project highlights the opportunities for legal migration to Europe while also encouraging youths to look at positive alternatives to emigration available in Nigeria.

MEPN works with both the traditional and the new media to get the message out.

Another key stakeholder being engaged in the campaign are Diaspora Nigerians who are enjoined to discourage their relatives and friends back home from embarking on irregular migration.

The current campaign (MEPN Plus), a follow-up to the one of last year, principally consists of a round of dialogue, holding in Abuja (18 August 2018), Enugu (25 August 2018), Lagos (8 September 2018) and Benin-City (15 September 2018) – with multipliers such as journalists, youth groups, students, artists and clergy people, among others. This will be complemented with a street flyer/info campaign in those cities as well as Warri and Ibadan from August to December 2018.

Between August and September 2018, the project directors – Kenneth Gbandi and Femi Awoniyi – will also visit media houses, places of worship, local politicians and traditional leaders, among others, to seek their support in spreading the message of the campaign.

© Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, 2018

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