COVID-19 poses challenge to fighting human trafficking – NAPTIP
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says the contagious nature of the novel coronavirus poses serious challenge to security personnel working against human trafficking in the country.
NAPTIP Director-General, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, said this on Thursday at a virtual meeting organised to commemorate the 2020 World Human Trafficking Day, marked on July 30.
Okah-Donli said that the coronavirus pandemic had hindered enforcement officers in identifying and providing support for victims of trafficking as a result of the dehumanising conditions where the victims work.
According to the D-G, the victims are more susceptible to contracting the virus and are often at the back of the line in accessing healthcare services.
She said that most countries had also cut back their support and services to victims of trafficking to prioritise their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has increased the rate of unemployment and occasioned reduction in incomes especially for low wage and informal sector workers, thereby significantly increasing their vulnerability and those of their dependents to becoming victims of trafficking.
“All these further complicate the task of identifying victims of human trafficking, which has always been a challenge, even under normal circumstances, because trafficking victims are often exploited in illegal way,’’ she said.
Also speaking at the meeting, Hajia Sadiya-Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said that the effects of human trafficking were far reaching and required support from all and sundry.
According to her, traffickers are adjusting the business by creating new tactics occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic to lure their victims into this illegal act.
“Victims are trafficked, they are enslaved, abused physically and mentally, or used as sex slaves.
“Our dear brothers and sisters are denied opportunities for education and robbed of the opportunity to develop their potential in the prime of their lives.
“Some of the devastating impacts on those who are victims include early motherhood, unwanted pregnancies, loss of education, loss of childhood, and loss of economic opportunities.
“We are not oblivious of the increasing social and economic inequalities that are among the root causes of human trafficking in the country.
“The Federal Government is responding to this through several interventions designed to help Nigerians as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ she said.
The minister, however, appealed to stakeholders to do all they can to strengthen the efforts to effectively identify victims of sexual exploitation and ensure that victims are protected and have access to social benefits and health care.
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