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How to stop West African youths from illegal migration -ECOWAS

The ECOWAS Parliament has decried the irregular migration of youths from the subregion in search of greener pastures in Europe and other developed countries.

ECOWAS Parliament Speaker, Memounatou Ibrahima, stated this during the 2024 First Ordinary Session of the parliament in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ibrahima noted that the youths mostly emigrate through irregular means, adding that strategies must be adopted to halt the dangerous trend in the region.

She urged Members of Parliament to propose ways to invest in the skills and capacity of West African youth and explore their potential for the subregion’s benefit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exodus of youths, otherwise called the ‘Japa Syndrome’ in Nigeria, has led to the loss of African skilled youth to Europe and other developed countries.

Ibrahima’s submission was sequel to the presentation at plenary by Teresa Boteli (Policy and Liaison Officer) of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Boteli had spoken about the emigration of African youth through dangerous routes to Europe and North America.

Boteli said that the dangerous journeys has exposed the youths to numerous risks, including human trafficking, exploitation, and death.

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She added that an estimated 5,000 migrant deaths were recorded in 2023 alone.

She said that while migrants contribute to cultural exchange and diversity, they also face significant challenges in terms of integration, discrimination, and legal hurdles in their destination countries.

An estimated 300,000 West African migrants often use perilous routes through the Sahara Desert and across the Mediterranean Sea annually, according to the IOM report in 2023.

Contributing to the discussion, the First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, said that youth unemployment was responsible for the multifaceted conflicts ravaging the sub-region.

He noted that conflicts around the world, such as the war in Ukraine, had contributed to the crises in West Africa and called for concerted efforts by member states to curb the menace.

Also contributing, Deputy Speaker Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, called for urgent creation jobs to stem the teeming youth irregular migration.

Cape Verde MP, Orlando Diaz, called for a detailed approach to youth migration, warning that if urgent steps were not taken, the situation could degenerate into unimaginable consequences.

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Sierra Leone’s MP, Mabinty Funna, said that creating more employment opportunities in member-states would reduce youth migration overseas.

She added that the issue was a huge challenge that required a comprehensive approach by the body.

She urged member states to address issues such as promoting entrepreneurship, which can create more job opportunities for young people.

“Governments can provide training, access to finance, and mentorship to encourage young people to start their own businesses.

“Investment in education and skills development and providing training programmes that are aligned with market needs can help young people acquire the skills needed to access job opportunities in growing sectors.

“We can diversify our economies beyond traditional sectors like agriculture and mining.

“Investing in sectors such as technology, renewable energy, and manufacturing can create new job opportunities for young people,” Funna said.(NAN)

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