By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
The UN, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has said that migration of youths within sub-Sahara African region is affecting its long term development.
Mr Lamine Sow, Officer-in-Charge, UNESCO Multi-sectoral Regional Office in Abuja, said this on Wednesday at a photo exhibition organised by Art for Humanity Foundation.
The exhibition titled “En route’’ was on ethical representation of migration stories by young Nigerian photojournalists and as well provided access to information on migration issues.
The project is supported by UNESCO Abuja and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Sow explained that there were lots of misinformation, disinformation on migration in the public domain and they affected peaceful living in societies, hence the need to portray real life stories through photography and arts.
The organisation, Sow said, was working extensively on issues of migration whether illegal or legal and helping people to understand the consequences, myths, integration and reintegration processes of migration.
According to him, the youth constitute the higher population of the region and their leaving to other countries is having adverse effect on it.
“When we talk about immigration, we talk about our youths and our youths are the most valid portion of our population and youths in this region are assets in the sub-Saharan Africa.
“The youth can also be a menace or threat depending on how we build their capacity.
“If the youth leave our country and our region when they are well trained, because families and the state have invested in building the capacity of the youth, it is brain drain.
“That kind of brain drain resulting from that phenomenon will affect the long term development of our region,’’ he said.
The official further said that migration had to do with the environment, politics, economy, social values and norms.
He advised that the government should provide quality education, social economic policies and plans to ensure there was the conducive environment for investment, importation, exportation and strategies that bring development.
According to him, all these things including creation of decent jobs in rural areas are essential to keep the youth.
Sow said “ the issue calls for multidimensional solution generally.
“While we all try hard toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, we want to live in peaceful societies where everybody has the potential to expand both socially, emotionally, economically and intellectually.’’
He commended the photojournalists and also assured that UNESCO would continue to support immigration initiatives in Nigeria.
Mr Osaze Efe, Creative Director, Art for Humanity foundation, and implementing partner, recalled that the photojournalists were trained a month back on putting migration stories into photography.
Efe, however, warned that if people must travel, they should have backing documents and ensure their means of survival.
“If there is any genuine reason for one to travel to other places, whether local or foreign for a better living, make sure you have the competence and the legal documentation to travel.
“Without legal documentation and the means to travel, it is risky, you are going to have issues with the law and you will have issues of survival,’’ he said.
The 10 Photojournalists at the exhibition included Mary Inalegwu, Oke Oluwasegun, Aderonke Alade, Omoregie Osakpolor, Eragbie Joshua, Adekuoroye Tolu, Moha Sheikh, Johnpeters Anyanwu, David Dawali and Obasola Bamigbola.
All the photojournalist had their migration stories presented in photography.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the photojournalists’ work will be accessed by participants and stakeholders at the exhibition and a winner chosen.
Efe said that the winner would be given a laptop, while the two runners-up would receive stipends to support their work.