The United Nations Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM), has advised potential migrants to be cautious of a syndicate that specializes in offering fake employment letters to Nigerians seeking to work in the United Kingdom, UK.
Urging them to seek out proper information before embarking on any migration, the IOM disclosed that over 260,000 Nigerians had approached it in 2023, seeking guidance on how to migrate through regular or approved routes and also undergoing pre-departure medical health assessments.
It said no fewer than a thousand Nigerians are currently stranded in the UK, having gotten visas based on the fake employment letters procured for them, only to get to the respective organizations in the UK and then be denied acceptance because the letters did not emanate from those organizations.
IOM’s Chief of Mission, Mr Laurent De Boeck, disclosed this at a news conference Monday in Abuja.
According to him, some of the victims lost as much as $10,000 each in their desperate attempts to secure foreign jobs.
He said they are consequently stranded in the UK because some of them lack the means to come back, while others are ashamed of coming back to their families.
“There are some of them who lost over $10,000 only to be given fake employment letters, which allowed them to get visas. They get there, present the letters, and the organizations tell them that the letters did not emanate from the organizations. Over a thousand people are affected,” he stated.
De Boeck also added that IOM was working with partners to repatriate thousands of persons, including Nigerians, from Tunisia, which has recently placed a ban on migration.
He said the IOM is working extensively with Italy to develop regular pathways for qualified Nigerians and that it would also engage other countries like Spain, Belgium, France, and others.
On displacements, De Boeck said there has been about a 30 percent annual increase for the past five years in many states of the North West.
Noting that Zamfara remained the most impacted in this regard, he said the incident of banditry and other crimes were fueling the increase.
“In Kano, people are displaced within and there are others who have migrated, which is why our offices in Libya and Niger have more migrants originating from Kano”, he stated.
He said that in 2023, IOM played a crucial role in addressing the shelter needs of 71,666 individuals affected by conflicts and environmental hazards.”Emergency, transitional, and durable housing solutions, including the construction of shelters, the distribution of shelter kits, and the innovative construction of 270 mudbrick shelters, were implemented.
Additionally, 37,277 individuals benefited from NFI interventions, ensuring access to personal and household items through hybrid, in-kind, and cash-based approaches.”Initiatives, such as safe access to fuel and energy, vocational skills training for youth, the construction of markets, and climate-smart agricultural training, reached thousands of households, significantly contributing to long-term resilience and community empowerment.
“In 2023, IOM identified and supported 682 victims of trafficking, with a dedicated focus on vulnerable groups such as survivors of gender-based violence, persons with disabilities, and unaccompanied and separated children. “Collaborating with the Federal Government of Nigeria, IOM facilitated the return of 4,431 Nigerians and supported their reintegration. A total of 2,853 individuals received reintegration assistance, engaging in socio-economic opportunities of their choice.
“IOM’s Migration Health efforts in 2023, including over 260,000 Pre-Departure Medical Health Assessments (PDMHAs), diagnosing and referring 166 migrants with TB, administering 15,000 vaccine doses, and renovating three public hospitals, exemplified the organization’s commitment to comprehensive healthcare”, he stated.