Benin City – “We are extremely proud to be associated with this project, working together with IOM and other partners to make you feel at home, equip you with the skills, and capacity so you can build your lives again,” said Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as he spoke to a crowd of Nigerian returnees in Benin City.
Karlsen led the EU Delegation visit to the city, which included the four-day business skills training for 102 Nigerian returnees from 3 to 6 December at LAPO Institute. The event organized by IOM, was part of the ongoing reintegration process of migrant returns.
During the closing ceremony of the training, IOM hosted the third screening of the Global Migration Film Festival in Nigeria. The returnees had the chance to watch the documentary ‘Bushfallers – A Journey of Chasing Dreams’. Participants were confronted with similar stories of irregular migrants from Cameroon and Guinea. The GMFF is intended to inspire debate about migration issues, including its risks.
Also in Benin City, IOM, together with international and national partners participated in the 2nd Roundtable Dialogue on Managing Migration through Development Programmes (MMDP). The two-day event (4-5 December), which took place in Benin City, Edo State was organized by the Edo State Government. Abraham Tamrat, IOM Nigeria Programme Manager joined a panel titled: Resettling and Reintegrating Migrant Returnees in Edo State: Opportunities and Gaps.
“Reintegration is conducted based on the date of return while giving priority to the most vulnerable groups, including victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and separated migrant children, as well as those with health issues,” said Tamrat. He noted that so far 4,329 returnees (2,676 male and 1,653 female) have participated in the business training organized by IOM in Lagos, Edo, Nassarawa, Kano and Kaduna States, with returnees being counselled about the types of businesses they intend to venture into under the collective reintegration scheme.
From April 2017 to date, IOM has assisted over 10,000 irregular Nigerian migrants to return home, of which 48 per cent are from Edo State. Anecdotal data on their journey across the Central Mediterranean indicates that some of their experiences exacerbate existing psychosocial vulnerabilities. In its response to reducing returnees’ anxiety and building the necessary resilience for sustainable reintegration, IOM organised a three-day capacity building training (3-5 December) on mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and psychological first aid (PFA) for state and non-state actors working on migration in Nigeria.
The training focused on psychological first aid, coping mechanisms, and communicating with vulnerable migrants. Nineteen participants (nine females and ten males) from the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and local NGOs attended the training.
“This is a long-awaited training. It will enhance my professional preparedness to crisis and best practice interventions,” said Stephen Selowo, NAPTIP Official one of the participants at the Training of Trainers (TOT) training. Selowo stated that “Psychosocial support is needed in caring for persons who have experienced any critical situation.”
All activities were funded by the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Nigeria.