© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
BAD NEWS: 875,500 victims of human trafficking are Nigerians
Of the estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking around the world, about 875,500 are in Nigeria.
This was revealed on Tuesday at a one-day interactive discussion to commemorate the 2018 US National Human Trafficking Awareness Month organised by Devatop Centre for Africa Development in partnership with the US Embassy.
The event, themed ‘Fostering action against human trafficking and irregular migration’, was targeted at civil society organisations, youth, educators, religious leaders, law enforcement agencies and interested individuals.
Joseph Osuigwe, Executive Director of the group, stressed how thousands of Nigerian youth die as a result of irregular migration and smuggling while crossing the Mediterranean sea, desert or dangerous roads in search of greener pasture.
He noted that over 27 million women, girls, men, and boys are currently victims of human trafficking across the globe.
“They are bought and forced into prostitution, labour exploitation and child pornography,” Osuigwe said.
“For years, human trafficking has continued to thrive in the shadow and silence of others. Eighty percent of the victims are young people between the ages of six and 24.
“Nigeria is a source, transit route and destination of people trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation. Millions of Nigerian young people are vulnerable to human trafficking as a result of insurgency, community crises, poverty, maltreatment at home, family crises and unemployment.”
Orakwue Arinze, Director of Public Enlightenment, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), who was a discussant at the event, said the urge to ‘hustle’ and ‘hammer’ amidst other factors like poverty, collapse of social infrastructure, denial of social amenities, neglect of moral and cultural standards force the youth to do anything it takes to get them out of the country in the erroneous belief that everything is fine abroad.
Despite efforts to curb human trafficking and illegal migration, the problem still persists. Kolawole Olatosimi, North Central Coordinator, Network Of Civil Society Organisations Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), blamed this on lack of a social safety net backed by the law.
He noted that the Federal Government’s social intervention programme of giving unemployed youth N5,000 and feeding primary school children are not backed by law and can be thrown away by any incoming government.
Ikenga Ngozi, a legal practitioner who is also the Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers, Abuja branch, spoke on the legal aspects of the anti-human trafficking campaign. She described human trafficking as a violation of human rights.
Similarly, Imaobong Ladipo-Sanusi, Exeecutive Director, Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), spoke about the foundation’s contributions to the fight against human trafficking.
The United States Senate designated January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, dedicated towards raising awareness on the need to bring the menace to an end.