The European Union (EU) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have commissioned a new transit center for returned Nigerian migrants in Lagos State with support from the European Union. The centre will serve as a reception point for the provision of safe, temporary accommodation, as well as ensure access to social support and specialised services to returned migrants, unaccompanied children, and Victims of Trafficking (VoTs).
The transit center has the capacity to host up to 400 migrants who can benefit from direct medical assistance, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), counselling, provision of food and a safe, clean, and secure location to rest. Returned migrants accommodated in the facility can stay between two and 12 nights based on their needs. During this time, they can finalise their return plans, contact their family and ensure the existence of social contacts and willingness of their family to receive them back home.
According to the International Aid/Cooperation Officer Migration, Drugs and Organised Crime of the EU Delegation to Nigeria & ECOWAS, Eleni Zerzelidou, “The European Union strongly supports dignified return and sustainable reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries.” Eleni explained further, “The launch of the transit centre is a great opportunity for the EU and IOM to familiarize government partners with migrant protection and assistance processes involved in providing post-arrival assistance to Nigerian returnees.”
Given the protection needs of all categories of vulnerable migrants, IOM has collaborated with Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) to establish a transit center to strengthen the support system through its traditional roles of reception of returning migrants, temporary accommodation during family tracing, and reintegration.
“The main aim is to ensure a smooth transition for migrants returning to their communities of origin. IOM will provide short business skills and entrepreneurship management training to migrants willing to acquire skills before returning home and help them become more financially independent,” said Prestage Murima, IOM Nigeria Programme Development Coordinator.
IOM, LASEMA and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRFMI) will run the centre collaboratively, with diverse responsibilities for each entity. IOM has been facilitating the voluntary return of Nigerian migrants stranded in transit and destination countries since 2017, providing the means and skills to meet their needs once back to their local communities under the IOM-EU Joint Initiative. IOM, in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria and its relevant agencies, has facilitated the reception and post-arrival assistance to more than 22,500 returnees stranded in Libya, Niger, Mali and other African countries to return to Nigeria. Out of those 18,000 returnees came back to Nigeria under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.
Nigeria is one of the 26 countries that benefit from the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.