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Irregular migration: Libya returnees urged to lead campaign

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Nigeria on Tuesday urged voluntary returnees from Libya to use the social media to share their experiences to the public.

Mr Marshall Patsanza, the Digital Engagement Officer, IOM, said this was to curb irregular migration in the country.

Patsanza gave the advice at the Assisted Voluntary Returnees and Reintegration (AVRR) Training Workshop organised by IOM in Lagos.

The theme of the two-day workshop was “Migrants as Messenger”.

Patsanza said that the organisation was empowering the returnees for them to spread their experiences to their different communities and in the social media.

“We are empowering these returnees so that they can spread the message of how to go through the regular channel when they want to migrate.

“This is because IOM is not against migration, and we also advocate for the regular safe migration.

“So, what we are doing today is to improve their capacity to use smart phones to record themselves and also give them social media capacity training on how to share the videos online for the content to go viral.

“If the trainees can interact with their peers face to face or on the social media, then the public can get to know about the stories and reality of the journey,” he said.

The official said IOM was providing them with smart phones kits, including a basic smart phone, tripod and a microphone that also helps them to go into the communities.

He said the organisation hope was that people would become informed that they should not waste resources to embark on a journey that would end up being dangerous and harmful.

“That is why we are training the returnees that if Nigerians want to migrate, then, they have to do it in a safe way.

“The peer to peer method is effective because we realised that lots of people do not believe the big organisations when they put in campaign to say that do not migrate, don’t embark on the dangerous journey,” he said.

Patsanza said that the plan was for the returnees to share their experiences directly so that the public could interact with them instead of going through media organisations.

“We felt, if people are hearing straight from the horse’s mouth, straight from someone who actually experienced it, they will be in a better position to ask them questions.

“We feel like if the peers are telling the people that might want to embark on the dangerous journey about the truth then, that will enlighten the public better,” he said.

Patsanza said that the second aspect about the peer to peer training was because the IOM realised that the “Buggers” – smugglers and the connection men, who are deceiving young Nigerians, were also their peers.

“So, if we start countering the message of the connection men or the Buggers with the information about the returnees that have been trained by IOM, people will be faced with information that are contradicted,’’ he added.

The digital engagement officer said the public could now make informed decisions that would deter them from embarking on such perilous journeys.

Patsanza said that most of the returnees now had been trained in terms of business skills and most of them were already active in their communities.

He said the advocacy campaign was taking place in Senegal and Guinea, adding that IOM had identified 60 returnees from the three countries for the training.

Patanza said: “So, this is the first group we are training and we want to see how this programme will work and when the result start coming then we will increase the numbers

“We need to keep empowering and building their capacity to become messengers on irregular migration.”

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