Lagos – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, conducted a four-day business skills training for 72 Nigerian migrants returning from Libya, nearly half of whom are young women. The training took place in Lagos from 12 to 15 February. Participants learned how to plan, launch and sustain their own businesses from IOM and its government and civil society partners.
The business skills trainings aim to help people get back on their feet in their communities of origin, and are part of the three-year European Union–IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. The Initiative, funded by the EU and implemented by IOM, also offers in-kind reintegration assistance to help some of the returning Nigerian migrants start businesses like tailoring shops, beauty salons, and market kiosks at home.
The programme is important as the majority of Nigerian migrants who return from Libya say they travelled to the North African country in hopes of crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Italy and finding better job opportunities in Europe.
The Central Mediterranean Sea passage is one of the deadliest migration routes in the world: 2,834 migrants died at sea on the route between Libya and Italy in 2017 and 315 have perished since the start of 2018, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project. Travelling from West African countries, like Nigeria, through Niger’s desert to reach Libya and the sea is also risky as the route is rife with traffickers, smugglers, sexual abuse, and robbery.
“Many people are dead, including my friends who we started the journey with,” said Juliet Okochioma, one of the young Nigerians who attended the training. “Some are sick. Some are in prison [in Libya], without medication or food. I count myself lucky because God heard my prayers and gave me a second chance to be back home in one piece,” she added.
Juliet plans to use the business skills she learned at the training to launch her dream business: running her own beauty parlour in Lagos. The same dream took her on the deadly journey in hopes of earning enough money in Europe to return to Nigeria and open her business.
The trainings also serve as opportunities for returning migrants to meet one another and consider pooling their in-kind assistance, skills, and resources to open more sustainable businesses through collective projects
“We hope that after the training, we can all join hands in conducting different businesses as brothers and sisters, and also become ambassadors of hope to those who have lost hope in their lives,” said Osita Osemene, who led IOM’s training on behalf of Lift Above Poverty Organization, a civil society development organization based in Benin City. More than 200 Nigerian migrants who returned from Libya have participated in business skills trainings since IOM and its partners started the workshops in December 2017. The trainings also offer Nigerian returnees an opportunity to meet and support one another – many suffered similar trauma on the journey and need to rebuild support systems in their local communities.
More than 6,300 Nigerians have returned home from Libya through the EU-IOM Joint initiative in the last 10 months. Business skills trainings will continue with the aim of reaching all Nigerian migrants who choose to return from Libya.
For more information, please contact Julia Burpee at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 228 2406, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Abrahm Tamrat, Tel: +234 906 228 4580, Email: email@example.com
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