AnalysesDisplacement & Migration

International Migration Day: Navigating Pain And Prospects For African Migrants

The United Nations General Assembly marked Dec. 18 of every year as International Migration Day. The annual celebration is to appreciate the contributions of migrants and to ensure the protection of their rights globally.

On Dec. 7, the National Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) hosted a national migration dialogue in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, to address migration issues and how they affect young people in the country.

Since 2014, the humanitarian agency has organised several dialogues to propose solutions and develop policies addressing the challenges of urbanisation and the prospects of the rights of migrants. 

Migration is a deep-seated problem globally; people feeling dissatisfied about the situations of things in their countries move elsewhere to seek greener pastures. Desperate to escape economic and social hardship in their countries, however, several migrants go through the back door, breaking international migration laws.

Several African migrants, among whom are Nigerians, have had to cross to Europe by road, traversing through Libya to find their way. In Nigeria, the mass exodus of young people to Europe is described in the local parlance as the japa syndrome. 

In a survey conducted in May, Philip Consulting Limited, a Nigerian business and management firm, found that 52 per cent of skilled Nigerian professionals are willing to migrate, citing poor conditions of service and high cost of living. 

Similarly, the head of Nigeria’s academic staff union, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, recently raised an alarm over the mass exodus of lecturers from Nigerian public schools to foreign countries. The professor says the japa syndrome is becoming a setback for the country’s education system. 

In the past year alone, the United Kingdom’s General Medical Council said 1,616 Nigerian medical practitioners relocated to the country. However, illegal migrants struggle to survive in foreign countries; they face human rights violations by highhanded people in informal workplaces, exposing them to more risk. The ill-treatment of migrants contravenes the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which states that all migrants, regardless of their social status, have equal rights. 

On December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly marked Dec. 18 of every year as the International Migration Day. The annual celebration is to appreciate the contributions of migrants and to ensure the protection of their rights globally.

This year’s theme, ‘Honoring the contribution of the migrants and respecting their rights’, aims to address the plight of migrants everywhere in the world.

In 2022, African migrants, some of whom are Nigerians, chronicled how they faced discrimination, especially at the Foreigner Registration Centres (FRCs) in Lithuania. Following the lamentation of the migrants, Médecins Sans Frontières, a global humanitarian agency, accused the Lithuanian authorities of creating a “hierarchy of suffering” with the country’s discriminatory practices against migrants.

On its part, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has many times supported migrants who endanger their lives to cross to Europe back home. IOM says it has safely returned at least 16,000 Nigerians home since 2017. 

Regardless of their social or financial status, experts warned that the protection of migrants should be prioritised, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Nigeria’s policy on migration. The policy states clearly that every person has the right to live in any country of the world and return to their country of origin safely at will.

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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