Promoting Good Governance.

NGO shares lessons from anti-trafficking project with stakeholders in Edo

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation, ​Market Development in Niger Delta (MADE) II, has organised a stakeholders conference to share achievements as well as receive feedback from participants on projects aimed at tackling human trafficking and forced labour in Edo State. 

Themed ​“Strengthening Market-based Approaches to Stimulate Livelihood Opportunities,” the event took place on Tuesday in Benin, the Edo State capital. It was organised as part of the organisation’s Edo State Investment Portfolio (ESIP) Project.

Yinka Omorogbe, a professor of Energy Law and chairperson of the Edo Taskforce Against Human Trafficking and Irregular Migration (ETAHT) shared, during her lecture, the experience and successes of the state government in the fight against trafficking.

The chairperson, who is also the state’s Attorney-General, said the task force has received up to 4,769 returnees from various countries since its establishment in August 2017 and has, through partner support, successfully trained over 500 of those returnees.

“All the returnees received went through counselling and those identified to be seriously traumatised were referred to the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital or were given appointments to visit in-house social-workers for free treatment and follow-up,” she said.

Omorogbe said the task force has been acknowledged for its strong commitment “towards severing the connection of Edo with human trafficking and prostitution”.

“We are acknowledged as an implementing partner by the International Office of Migration. The Taskforce received favourable mentions and was clearly a contributory factor to the recent upgrade of Nigeria to a tier 2 country in the US Trafficking in Persons Report 2019,” she added.

“We are an example of best practice. NAPTIP [the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons] openly advocates the Edo State model for other states and, as a result, Delta and Ondo now have Taskforces Against Human Trafficking.”

Noting that the task force is confronted with a lack of adequate financial resources, manpower, and equipment, Omorogbe said it welcomes partnerships in various aspects including rehabilitation, advocacy, research, investigation, and prosecution.

6 in 10 migrants travel for ‘economic reasons’

The ETAHT chairperson revealed that 59 per cent of interviewed returnees said they travelled for economic reasons, 13.7 per cent blamed family pressure, while others mentioned unemployment, frustration, peer pressure, among other factors.

The vast majority of the migrants, 72.5 per cent, are male, while the rest are female. Also, 43.3 per cent of them were found to be between the ages of 18 and 25.

Also, out of a total of 3911 returnees, 942 (24 per cent) had primary school leaving certificates, 2462 (63 per cent) were secondary school leavers, 330 had an OND, 61 and HND, and 117 were BSc holders.

A typical migrant intends to travel to Italy, but other top countries of destination include Germany, France, Austria, and Spain. 90 per cent of the returnees had economically viable skills before embarking on the journey. While welding, fashion designing and furniture making were common skills among the males, the women were often inclined towards hair styling, business, and tailoring.

ESIP hopes to raise income of 30,000 Edo residents

Also at the conference, Rufus Idris, who manages ESIP, provided an overview of the project. He explained that ESIP aims at reducing the incidents of human trafficking and irregular migration by increasing the state’s capacity to provide aspirational economic opportunities to raise the incomes of returnees and vulnerable persons.

The project especially focuses on such sectors as agribusiness, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), entertainment, trading, renewable energy, and fashion. Its objective is to facilitate investments and partnerships that will positively impact 40,000 persons and increase the earnings of 30,000 residents of the state.

Idris admitted that part of the lessons learned so far in the implementation of the project is that the market systems approach as a solution to human trafficking is relatively new and “it is often challenging to persuade profit-oriented private sector partners to target unskilled and less educated youth in skills development and job placement”.

The event on Tuesday also featured the screening of a documentary as well as two-panel sessions on aspirational job creation and the ease of doing business in Edo.

On the panel were Ukinebo Dare, Senior Special Adviser to the Edo governor on Skills Development and Jobs; Isimeme Whyte, founder of Genius Hub; Stephen Osawaru, Co-Founder of Ignite StartupX; Igbinoba Smart, chief executive officer of God Grace Multiple Fashion; and Kelvin Uwaibi, head of Edo State Investment Promotion Office.

Others were Victor Legogie, chief executive officer of Asanita Agricultural Processing Company; Edosa Eghobamien, chief executive officer of Amena Academy; and Ayo Arikawe from Partnerships and Technology (Thrive Agric.).

ESIP is a two-year project funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK Aid) that started in March 2018. It is an addition to the second phase of the Market Development in the Niger Delta project (MADE II) and targets the attraction of investments worth £10 million (N4.6 billion) into Edo state.

The state is infamous for its large population of victims of illegal migration. According to NAPTIP, 47 per cent of convicted traffickers and 98 per cent of victims rescued from external trafficking for sexual exploitation are from Edo.

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