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Outrage as number of Nigerian students ‘mudered’ in Northern Cyprus rises 

Massive condemnation has greeted the incessant killings of Nigerian students in Northern Cyprus.

The latest on the list of Nigerian students murdered in that country was Ibrahim Khaleel Bello, a third year Civil Engineering student of Girne American University.

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has demanded that justice must be served accordingly on the sudden death of the  25-year old Nigerian  and others killed in such mysterious circumstances in the country.

She made this passionate plea following a petition by Hon. Justice Amina Ahmad Bello, a Judge in Kaduna state High Court on the mysterious and , inexplicable death of her son, a third year Civil Engineering Degree student of Girne American University in Girne (Kyrenia), Turkish, Republic of Northern Cyprus ( TRNC) via Mersin 10, Turkey in Abuja on Monday.

Dabiri-Erewa called on parents to be weary of sending their wards to Northern Cyprus as the country is not recognized by the United Nations except the Republic of Turkey, adding that Nigeria has no diplomatic ties with that country.
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She insisted that the Country should be blacklisted given the preponderance of Nigerian Students who have died mysteriously in that country without any prosecution or compensation whatsoever.

She assured the delegation led by Justice Bello,  that NIDCOM will work with the Ministry of Justice, Nigerian Mission in Turkey and other relevant agencies to ensure justice is done , saying “the death of Ibrahim khaleel Bello should be a tipping point to end the continuous
killings of Nigerian students in that country.”
Dabiri-Erewa reiterated her appeals to Nigerian parents to desist in sending their children to Northern Cyprus for any studies as most of the courses are not accredited and they end up killing the children, many of them unreported.
“The time has come for us to blacklist all these Universities in Northern Cyprus and advise our students from seeking any form of admission there as it portends danger to their life and future”, she said.
She added that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has already reported the matter to Interpol for further investigation.
Earlier in an emotion laden voice, Justice Amina Ahmad Bello, mother of the deceased, said her insistence on justice was not only for her son but also other Nigerian Students who have died mysteriously in the Girne American University Girne (Kyrenia),  and other Universities..
She narrated how her son was allegedly murdered and covered up by the authorities in Northern Cyprus as welll as the University authorities claiming it was a suicide mission having fallen from a seven-storey building.
She insisted that the report be investigated and all those found culpable be prosecuted as there was nothing to show that her son committed suicide.
Justice Bello said hours before her son was killed, she spoke with him, and he was expressing fears on his safety in the University environment.
“I don’t believe it was an accident or a suicide as i went to Cyprus barely 24 hours it happened and got to the mortuary where there was no scratch or wound on his body.
“I suspected foul play that my son was killed as the school was non- challenge in breaking the news to me on my arrival there”
Justice Bello said hours before the boy died, he sent her a WhatsApp message that “Mama, Please I want to come back home. Wallahi if i stay here, I will just die here without anybody batting an eyelash. I just need to come back.
Mama please try to understand that this isn’t a place for me”. She alleged that it is possible some of the killed Nigerian students vital organs were harvested as her son’s stomach was opened and sutured when the corpse was finally released.
The late Ibrahim Khaleel Bello was among about 100 Nigerians killed and murdered in mysterious circumstances from 2016 to 2020 without prosecuting any of the assailants.
The late Ibrahim Khaleel Bello was among about 100 Nigerians killed and murdered in mysterious circumstances from 2016 to 2020 without prosecuting any of the assailants.
Other victims include, Kennedy Taomwabwa Dede, 28, student of Eastern Mediterranean University and was killed on Feb. 1, 2018, Walshak Augustine Ngok, a student of Marine Engineering at Near East University, murdered on April 19, 2019.
Others were Gabriel Soriwei, a first year student of Electrical Electronics of Cyprus International University, Nicosia, Osabanjo Adeola Owoyale, 33, went missing and found dead on July 1, 2019.
The list include Augustine Wallies killed on April 19, 2019, Stanley Eteimo, 28 years, Hassan Babatunde, 28, murdered, Temitayo Adigun, killed, Kubiat Abasi Abraham Okon, 24, killed, Oziegbe Gospower Airekugose and Olasubomi Ope among others not reported.

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

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“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Cracking the $150b business of human trafficking

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

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UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

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“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

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“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

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Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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