By Ayo Kehinde
Illegal immigrants trapped at Sea
The Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria, MEPN, has raised the alarm over deadly, treacherous routes to alert would-be Nigerian migrants intending to reach Europe across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa.
They warned those embarking on the trip through irregular routes, such as Libya, to reconsider the journey as new policies aimed at reducing the number of migrants arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea are trapping refugees in the North African region where they’re exposed to harsh living conditions and widespread human rights abuses.
In a statement signed by the Kenneth Gbandi, Co-Project Director (MEPN) and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) and Femi Awoniyi , Co-Project Director (MEPN) Berlin, Germany, the group highlighted current events in the way of illegal immigrants to include;
– Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Unity which issued a directive in August 2017, compelling NGO rescue ships to seek official permission before entering Libya’s waters to carry out rescue operations. This means less search-and- rescue missions for capsized boats and increasing fatalities among those crossing the Mediterranean on these boats.
- – Increased European cash aid to many Libyan coastal towns has enabled them to clamp down on the activities of people smugglers
- – Similarly, Italy’s financial support for Libya’s coast guards has enabled a more effective patrol of the nation’s coasts.
- – Inhabitants of coastal towns tired of seeing dead bodies of migrants, whose boats had capsized in the Mediterranean, washing up on their beaches are forming vigilante groups to curb the activities of people smugglers.
- Arguing that though the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean between 1 January to 13 September 2017 has dramatically declined (to 128,863 from 293,806 during the same period in 2016), they said some experts say that the proportion of those dying at sea has risen.
- They therefore urged those who must travel to rather seek legal travel channels.