By Bose Ayodele, Abuja
The Federal Government is set to evacuate another set of Nigerians from Libya in February, Deputy Director, Search and Rescue, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Dr Bandele Onimode, has said.
Onimode said this on Tuesday in Abuja when he led a delegation to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora (SSAPFAD), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The delegation had come to shed light on the efforts of the agency in the rescue operations in Libya and other countries and what the Federal Government had been doing to secure the lives of Nigerians trapped in transit
According to him, the Federal Government has been doing a lot to help Nigerian citizens wherever they are having challenges.
“It is a well known fact that Nigerians do cross the desert to Europe through Niger Republic, Mali, and Sudan and in the process some are tired, stranded and trapped.
“Our Nigerian missions abroad never leave them alone, they always come to their rescue. As I am talking to you there are still some of them that are stranded in Niger and we are working on that.
“But the one that caught the attention of recent is the issue of Nigerians trying to get to Europe through Libya. There is need to set the record straight on what the government has been doing,” Onimode said.
He said the Federal Government had already evacuated no fewer than 1,000 voluntary returnees from Libya between 2015 and 2016.
Onimode said that 325 returnees were evacuated in May 2015 while 669 were evacuated four times in 2016.
He explained that 175, 160, 172, 162 returnees were evacuated from Libya, in August, October, and December 2016 respectively.
According to Onimode, most of the returnees were from Delta and Edo and aged between 16 and 22, adding that there were cases of infants being accompanied by their mothers.
He said that there were also cases of injured persons that were evacuated and returned to the country, stressing that such people were properly profiled by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
Onimode said that the agency was working with other sister agencies such as DSS, Police, FAAN, and NAPTIP to sort out the cases of victim of trafficking.
He explained that the International Office on Migration (IOM ) in conjunction with Libya had always helped in sorting out of the returnees.
“They are different from deportees; they are organised and willing returnees that are kept by IOM before being returned in collaboration with the Federal Government to the country,” Onimode said.
He said that the agency was going to set up an assessment team in collaboration with the office of SSAPFAD to ensure that Nigerians that were set to be arrested in those countries were identified and brought back to home
In her speech, Dabiri-Erewa called on Nigerians, especially parents, to warn their children and wards against embarking on illegal migration through Libya and the desert to the UK
“The issue of migration through Libya and Morocco is very dangerous for now and we advise Nigerians to desist from such dangerous adventure because a lot of times, a lot of these black migrants are dumped into the sea.
“It is gaining attention now because Europe is involved, but I will advise that it is not worth it a lot of times, it is not as green as we thought it is over there.
“We cannot stop migration , whether legal or illegal, but what we can do is to reduce illegal migration,” she said.