The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) through its Migrants as Messengers (MaM) project has taken its awareness campaign to the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen in Ovia-South-West Local Government Area of the state.
The awareness exercise was carried out through the MaM ‘Migration Room,’ whereby returned migrants interact with potential migrants to discuss issues that border on irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling of persons.
Migrant Room is a platform for sharing information so as to minimise chances of vulnerable persons falling victims of irregular migration, according to IOM Awareness Raising Officer, Cyprine Cheptepkeny.
Represented by IOM Project Assistant, Elijah Elaigwu, Cyprine said the choice of Edo State Polytechnic was informed by the realization that it is a youth dominated commmunity and realising that youths are prime target of traffickers.
She disclosed that the programme was meant to educate the academic commmunity on the ills of irregular migration for the purpose of ensuring that the students do not fall victims, while promoting safe migration.
She used the occasion to educate on the Blue Bus project, a partnership project of IOM and NAPTIP, with support from the Swiss government which focuses on human trafficking, including counseling.
The Director, Center for Gender Studies, Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, Barr. Esther Oriarewo in her remarks said that human trafficking is a violation of human rights.
The Benin Zonal Commander, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Barr. Chidi Ebere Ororo-Ifudu, represented by Joan Ojewa, x-raying the role of youths in checking human trafficking said that many if them have been deceived to fall victims of exploitation, including child labour, forced labour, organ harvesting and forced marriage.
According to her, human trafficking affects the economy, leads to stigmatisation and rejection by society, while victims are also denied their freedom.
She said that human trafficking can be addressed through skills acquisition, noting that migration is a positive idea when done rightly.