With the recent dehumanization of illegal migrants in Libya, it is sad to learn that some parents sell their properties and use the outcome to assist their children to risk their lives in dangerous migration in search of greener pastures, despite the massive repatriation of stranded Nigerians from the North African country.
The South-West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Yakubu Suleiman, while addressing the returnees, said he was disappointed in parents who still support their children to embark on such journeys through illegal routes by selling their properties to raise funds for them. He also disclosed that two batches of 186 returnees had arrived last week through the Assisted Voluntary Returnees programme of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which has repatriated over 10,000 since 2016.
“We have been inundated with calls from parents complaining that they have lost contact with their children while many would continue to raise money from home and send to their children who would have been held captive and their captors must be settled before their children would be set free,” he added.
The Buraq Airline flight conveying the returnees arrived at about 8:25pm with 70 female adults including nine pregnant women, 90 male adults, three children and eight infants. The voluntary returnees were brought from Zintan District of Libya, with eight of them having minor health issues.
According to one of the returnees, she travelled out to help her parents, who she described as struggling peasant farmers.
She said, “When I heard about the possibility of making changes in the lives of my family, I told my parents and they didn’t object. I wanted to go to France and knew that it was prostitution that I would do.
“I didn’t mind as long as I can make my parents comfortable. But on getting to Libya after much suffering on the road from Kano, I was held by some Libyans and my parents and trafficker raised money to free me.
“Again, I was held by another group but this time, I had to call my parents to raise money in order to free me. They sold everything they had and sent the money to me but I was only able to return to Nigeria through the assistance of IOM, when we could no longer proceed to my destination.”
She said she was made to swear that upon reaching France, she would pay her trafficker £12,000 and a herbalist £1,000.
“Now I am back in Nigeria without anything to show for it. My parents will be the worst hit,” she said.
Alhaji Suleiman appealed to the returnees to become anti-trafficking ambassadors by enlightening people against embarking on such journeys.
By Mercy Kukah