The Missing Steps, an upcoming mini-series produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), will highlight the risks of irregular migration and, importantly, alternative solutions, as it seeks to raise awareness about safe migration opportunities available to Nigerians.
The project’s timing is critical as Nigerians made up the largest contingent of Africans arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean Sea in 2016.
According to IOM, 37,551 Nigerians arrived in Italy last year (compared to 22,237 in 2015 and 9,000 in 2014).
Since February 2017, IOM has helped bring 504 stranded Nigerian migrants home from Libya, as part of the organization’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program, further illustrating the need to sensitize Nigerians about the risks of following irregular migration routes. The educational series, made possible through a grant from the Swiss government, will be aired on national television across the country in the coming months.
“If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone there. Libya is a very dangerous place,” lamented Beauty Johnson, a young mother from southern Nigeria. “I travelled there because I wanted to join my sister in Italy, but now I am going home unsuccessful and empty-handed.” After being stranded for five months, unable to travel to Europe, she was arrested and put into a detention camp with her baby. “I just wanted to go home to my job and normal life,” she said. IOM helped fly her back safely from Libya to Lagos on February 14th.
The TV series was filmed in Nigeria and Switzerland, and features popular Nollywood actors in a bid to attract a wider audience to engage with migration themes. The series will air in English, and likely Nigerian pidgin, to engage the public around the country.
“IOM is committed to encouraging safe and orderly migration,” said Enira Krdzalic, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission. “This television series is just one of the innovative ways we try to connect with local communities to ensure the public is aware of the opportunities that are available to travel and migrate to other countries. We expect this series, generously supported by the Swiss government, will speak to Nigerians and the experiences of many, such as those who have already attempted to follow irregular routes through Libya.”
Shooting for the series has finished and it will be scheduled for 13 weeks of broadcast starting in June, based on planning. IOM is working closely with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to ensure quality and relevant content for the series, which is being produced by a Nigerian company, C&E Productions.