The Swiss government is funding a Nigerian television series to show potential migrants the difficulties of emigrating illegally to Switzerland.
The 13-episode series is being filmed by a Nigerian film crew in Nigeria and Switzerland with the alpine country picking up the $450,000 price tag, news agencies
reported on Monday.
The series, called Missing Steps, came out of a 2011 migration agreement between the two countries which saw Nigeria pledge to help citizens who want to voluntarily return to the African nation.
The story follows a Nigerian man who comes to Switzerland and realizes that life isn't as good as he thought it would be.
Speaking to The Local on Wednesday, SEM spokesman Lukas Rieder said it wasn’t about dissuading Nigerians but giving them objective information.
“We have seen that a lack of information or false information is one of the main problems that leads to illegal migration,” he said.
"Human traffickers tell potential migrants that Switzerland is paradise, it's Eldorado. But that's not true. We want to provide objective information about the dangers of passage, and the dangers of living in Switzerland without a permit, for example".
Official campaigns have a limited reach and people are often skeptical about them, he said. Whereas using the Nigerian film industry – known as ‘Nollywood’ – could be an effective way of reaching as many people as possible.
However the plan hasn’t convinced the Swiss Refugee Council, which told the media that awareness campaigns like these were not enough by themselves.
It would be better to treat the causes of migration, such as the human rights situation and economic issues, said a spokesman.
In 2009, the UN said Nollywood had surpassed Hollywood to become the second largest film producer behind India’s Bollywood.
It produces some 2,000 films a year, most of them on a shoestring budget.
Its latest success is comedy The Wedding Party which has broken box office records in the country and was shown at international film festivals including Toronto.