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IOM raises concern over 1.4 million victims of trafficking in Nigeria

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International Organization for Migration, IOM, has said that there are at least 1.4 million victims of human trafficking in Nigeria living under suffering, coercion, exploitation and humiliation.

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IOM Chief of Mission in Nigeria, Franz Celestine, said that the number of people being trafficked in Nigeria and across the globe, is on the rise and Nigeria being a country of origin, transit and destination, has some of the highest numbers of victims of human trafficking who have been subject to some very inhumane treatments.

Celestine, in an opinion piece made available to The Guardian in commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking, said that the demand for cheap labour and commercial sex are the major drivers for trafficking rings across borders and within countries that are taking advantage of the economic, social and political vulnerabilities to exploit their victims.

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He called for the need to stakeholders to look into the plight of millions of children, women and men suffering from human trafficking and gross human rights abuses with the aim of giving a voice to trafficking victims and survivors in our society thereby making them powerful agents of change.

He said “In 2018, the Walk Free Foundation estimated that almost 1.4 million individuals were living in modern slavery in Nigeria. Research also shows that two-thirds of Nigerian victims of trafficking are victims of domestic human trafficking. Criminals of such a highly profitable business model have devised ways to hide their traces and increase gains.

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This year’s World Day against Trafficking in Persons theme “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way” highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. Sadly, often unheard, victims and survivors’ voices are key to developing and implementing strategies, policies, and measures to prosecute perpetrators. In worst cases, they face re-victimisation and punishment for seeking help for the crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.”

The IOM chief also noted that although the government through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), has taken some laudable steps to tackle human trafficking, there is still much to be done to end the ugly scourge.

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“Because IOM is concerned about the severity and dimension of the issue, we call upon our partners to put victims and survivors at the centre of our collective responses, learning from their stories and gaining inspiration from their courage and resilience,” he said.

“The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of potential victims of trafficking, made them more susceptible to exploitation, and brought to the surface existing societal inequalities.

“With the attention of governments focused on how to strengthen the health systems and cope with soaring loss of jobs, the victims are often left with no chance to be heard. Provision for essential services and support mechanisms has been extremely limited as countries struggle to respond to all challenges posed by COVID-19,” he said.

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Franz CelestineIOM
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