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FG sets up panel to resolve migrants’ crisis

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday met with the officials of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, the National Emergency Management Agency and the refugee commission over the fate of Nigerians still stranded in Libya.

The meeting, which was held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja came a few hours after President Muhammadu Buhari promised his administration’s commitment to  evacuate the remaining Nigerians stranded in Libya.

The meeting held behind closed doors was to afford the relevant agencies the opportunity of taking a common position on the matter.

Osinbajo, in his opening remarks before the meeting went into closed doors, recalled Buhari’s position.

The Vice-President said there was the need for Nigerians to be warned on the danger involved in such risky trips.

The Chief Executive Officer of refugees commission,   Sadia Umar Faruk, later told State House correspondents that  no fewer than 950 Nigerians had been repatriated to the country while 460 others were still being expected.

Faruk also disclosed that a committee had been constituted to come up with solution to the issue of immigration to Libya.

She said another set of 250 migrants returned to the country on Monday.

She said, “A committee has been set up consisting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  NAPTIP,  the Refugees Commission and NEMA to come up with terms of reference as to how to go about solving the issue of Libyan migrants and also what happened in Italy.”I think so far they have repatriated about 7,000 and daily, they are coming in.  As I speak to you now, a plane is arriving with about 250 migrants. So, we are expecting more on a daily basis. I think I was speaking with the Director General of NEMA and he said so far, about 4,600 are expected.”

The Director General of NAPTIP, Julie Donli, also said the government had devised measures to check immigration.

“What government is doing actually is to carry out a massive sensitization and awareness. Prevention mainly is the major thing to do. So, we plan to go to all communities in the 36 states including the FCT because if we have prevented this from happening, we will not be talking of repatriating or evacuating. That is what we are planning to do,” she said.

Buhari on Tuesday night in Abidjan declared that all Nigerians stranded in Libya and other parts of the world would be brought home and rehabilitated.

According to a statement on Wednesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President made the promise while addressing Nigerians in the Diaspora.

He also promised  to reduce the number of Nigerians heading for Europe illegally through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea by providing basic social amenities such as education, healthcare, and food security at home.

In an interactive session with members of the Nigerian Community in Cote D’ Ivoire, on the sidelines of the 5th AU-EU Summit, Buhari said all necessary steps would be taken to stem the tide of illegal migration by Nigerians.

He, however, noted that it was very difficult to know the origin of the people who died, while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, because of lack of documentation.

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