By Nefishetu Yakubu
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that it had concluded plans to create migration clubs in schools in Edo to tackle the scourge of irregular migration.
Wintana Tarekegn, the head of IOM Sub-Office Benin, made this known during a town hall meeting organised by Migrants As Messengers (MaM) to promote safe migration in Benin.
Tarekegn said that the town hall meeting became necessary to establish ways and linkages on how to integrate migration discussions in schools to bring about increased knowledge
“The school clubs would serve as channels to create awareness on the risk of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
“It is also to promote the tenets of safe migration practices as well as provide an avenue for social cohesion for returnee migrants to reduce stigma,” she said.
She explained that stakeholders’ contributions were critical in developing a holistic home-grown solution and approach to addressing the scourge of irregular migration.
According to her, IOM in collaboration with the federal government of Nigeria has facilitated the voluntary return of 21,000 Nigeria migrants stranded in Libya, Niger, Mali and European countries.
Mrs Ijeoma Uduak, the Zonal Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Benin Zonal command, commended IOM for the initiative.
Uduak noted that the establishment of migration clubs in schools would help to catch the children young to become aware of migration issues to curtail the scourge
In her paper presentation titled, “Reflecting Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Realities in schools”, Uduak said children were mostly recruited from schools and used for forced child labour, marriages and begging.
She listed peer group influence, ignorance, economic hardship and family pressure among others causes of people embarking on irregular migration.
“To prevent irregular migration:
“All schools should add human trafficking and irregular migration to their school curriculum.
“Establish anti human trafficking Vanguard in schools.
“And inscribed human trafficking messages on school exercise books as part of enlightenment,” she said.
Uduak, however, urged teachers and parents to watch out for indicators of migration in students in schools and at home.
Mrs Osamuyi Oni-Ekhosuehi, the Director, Inspectorate, Ministry of Education in Edo, reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to partner IOM to tackle the scourge of irregular migration in the state.
Oni-Ekhosuehi said, “Migration has always been in our curriculum. What is not there is the school clubs you are about to introduce.”
According to her, we are going to partner you to create the clubs. All you need to do is to provide training for the teachers that will watch over the children.
In his remarks, Brown Okojie, the leader of Migrants As Messengers (MaM), said that the MaM was a peer to peer awareness campaign group aimed at empowering young people to make informed decisions on migration. (NAN)