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Turkish Rights Group, NAPTIP alerts on trafficking syndicate in Northern Cyprus

By Tina Abeku, Abuja
03 August 2022   |   3:45 pm
A Turkish-based rights group and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), have raised alarm over the mass trafficking of young Nigerians, mostly females to Northern Cyprus on the pretext of educational scholarships.

NAPTIP

A Turkish-based rights group and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), have raised alarm over the mass trafficking of young Nigerians, mostly females to Northern Cyprus on the pretext of educational scholarships.

They say a human trafficking syndicate believed to be operating between Nigeria and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has been promising girls and a few young men non-existent scholarships and work opportunities, taking advantage of the weak education regulation in the country.

In a communique signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations Unit of NAPTIP, Stella Nezan, the group explained that TRNC has not been recognized as a sovereign state by any country except Turkey and is a territory largely isolated from the world therefore student visa regulations are not stringent compared to other countries.

“Students can receive visas mostly with just a proof of university registration. It has been understood that the human traffickers have been abusing this procedure and contacting Nigerians, especially young women, to deceive them into going to TRNC.”

“The country struggles to implement the minimum human rights standards in many areas because of insufficient resources, capacity, and engagement with the international community. The economy is based on two major sectors; tourism and education,” the group said.

With a population of about 326,000 and 22 operating universities, the country is said to be become a heaven for the traffickers who operate unrestrained.” In March 2020, the TRNC criminalized human trafficking, but the authorities are reluctant to investigate such cases.

There is absolutely no legal framework that protects and assists human trafficking victims and there is no shelter. Hence, victims are often exploited for months with no access to law enforcement. Even in rare cases, they are rescued, they are left with no assistance and protection from the authorities,” the statement reads.

NAPTIP in collaboration with the group is urging Nigerians who are being approached to travel to Northern Cyprus for university education to exercise extreme caution as most of those offers are from human traffickers who are capitalizing on the loose visa procedures to traffic them to that country for illicit purposes. “Once the students arrive at the territory, they are locked up in private apartments and forced into prostitution.”

“According to the hotline data of the Human Rights Platform, Nigerians form 70% of the human trafficking cases, from November 2021 to date, and all are victims for sex trafficking. Students should make sure that they have the financial means to cover all their university fees and living expenses since the country is currently suffering from economic crisis and job opportunities for students are dire.

According to NAPTIP, the human rights platform is currently the only organization that provides legal assistance and support to victims and rends show that victims that come to the TRNC with student visas are deceived by agents that are used as a shield by the traffickers hence anyone who finds themselves in an exploitative situation in the TRNC should reach out to them through their hotline on +905428620060

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