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Nigerian girl held captive in Lebanon cries for help

  • Victim laments boss” sexual harassment
Omotola's boss

Omolola’s boss in Lebanon (inset is Omotola co founder of PROJECTFERRY

A Nigerian lady, Ajayi Omolola, is in a very right corner in Lebanon and requires urgent assistance to come out alive.

The 23-year-old single mother in an SOS video she posted online seeking assistance, said she was taken to Lebanon with the promise that she was going to work as an English Language teacher. But on getting there, she was sold into slavery and daily subjected to all manner of inhuman treatment.

In the less than four minutes video, Omolola began her plea with a brief introduction of herself and family in Yoruba Language, spoken in the South West Nigeria. “Good afternoon ma and sir. My name is Ajayi Omolola. I am from Osun State. I am 23 years old. I am a single mother. My mother’s name is Ajayi Felicia while my dad’s name is Ajayi Kehinde.

“I am in Lebanon right now. My parents are living in Ilorin around Offa Garage. A family friend connected me to the white man who brought me to Lebanon.”

Sobbing and crying for help, she said: “They told me that I was coming to Lebanon in to teach English Language. But it was all a lie. When I got here, they collected my passport and kept it. When they did this, I wondered why they did that. I never knew they sold me into slavery.

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“What I am facing here is indescribable. I am just praying that I should not die in this process.

“They don’t take us to hospital whenever we are sick. The only medication they give us is panadol. Half of the people who came here with us half died.

 

“I am begging Feminique Life Support to save me so that I will also not die here. They should help me to return back to Nigeria.”

*Daily battle with sexual harassment*


Following the helpless condition she has found herself, Omolola, relives her daily struggle of how her boss constantly tries to rape her.

“The person I am staying with often wants to rape me but I have been resisting him. He has seized my phone and threatened that he will not give it back to me if i don’t allow him to have sex with me. It is only when he is sleeping of has gone out that I secretly use the phone. Whenever he want to rape me,

“I always push him away. I am scared that he could slump in the process and die. If that happens, the authorities will kill me.”

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*Agency abandons victim*
Desperate to wriggle out of danger starring her in the face, Omolola said she reached out to the agency that handled her traveling but met with a brick wall.
“I called my agency but they blocked me. I then told my boss that I was working for that I wanted to go back home but he vehemently refused, saying that he had paid the agency for everything about me.

“He said he owns me both in life and in death. When he said that, I exclaimed and became very worried about my three-year-old baby who I left back in Nigeria. Please Family Life Support help me. Help me to live and nurture my child. Don’t let them throw my parents into mourning.”

She hinted that the other person working together with her in the house just travelled, and frighteningly said: “Now that I will be left with this man (my boss) I don’t know what would happen.
I sleep in the siting room on bare floor in a very cold weather condition. They didn’t even give me good clothe to wear. It is rags that I am always given to wear.

 

“Please don’t let me die here. I am really suffering a great deal here. Unfortunately for me, my daughter has not known me. It is teaching that I was brought here to come and do but it is another thing entirely that I am doing here.”
*Government official , agency wade in*

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When the attention of Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari was drawn to the victim’s plight, she said: ”
“It’s a trafficking matter which I have forwarded to the DG of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP”
NAPTIP in a message shared on Journalist International Forum for Migration (JIFORM) said: “NAPTIP is already working on this. Investigations are on going and we are working with NSCDC on a lead presently related to this in Illorin.”

 

 

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IOM assists border control on route linking Ethiopia, Kenya

IOM has helped to establish a new Border Control Post between Ethiopia and Kenya. Photo: Rahel Negussie/IOM

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country (by population) after Nigeria, is also one of the continent’s largest sources of international migrants.

Along its vast national circumference –some 5,311 kilometres, connecting Ethiopia to Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia– government control posts are limited. Lack of adequate staffing and modern technology impedes proper migration management, a matter of concern for national governments as well as for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

At the start of this new year, IOM has helped open a new Border Control Post (BCP) between Ethiopia and Kenya. The post, at Neprumus in Ethiopia’s Dasenech district, straddles one of the 830-kilometer Ethiopia-Kenya frontier’s most frequented migratory routes, alongside a major route for Ethiopian migrants trying to reach South Africa. Ethiopians normally pass through Kenya into Tanzania, then travel further south.

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In March 2020, at least 60 Ethiopian irregular migrants were killed after being trapped in a lorry along this route. Hence, the urgent need for better and improved border control posts in the region.

“Supporting the establishment of modern and efficient BCPs will facilitate safe and orderly migration of citizens, enhance the relationship between bordering countries, provide protection, and increase the political and socio-economic stability between Ethiopia and Kenya,” explained Kederalah Idris, IOM’s Better Migration Management (BMM) Project Officer.

IOM is also supporting Ethiopia’s Immigration, Nationality, and Vital Events Agency (INVEA) with training to enhance the capacity of immigration officers, and at the same time supplying infrastructure and office equipment, computers, and generators to establish new border control posts.

“Strengthening BCP will play a great role in facilitating safe movement of community members to neighbouring Kenya and will create job opportunities for the community. In addition, it will have a big contribution in facilitating regular migration, while monitoring irregular movements,” said INVEA Director-General, Mujib Jemal, during his opening speech. He also recognized IOM and the zonal administration’s efforts in facilitating the opening of the BCP.

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At stake is more than improved border efficiency. IOM sees hope for improved trade benefiting the regional economy and raising livelihoods for some 48,000 people living in the Dasenech District.

Health checks are also being integrated into the BCP, which is a timely development given that COVID-19 continues to affect the nation. As of 18 January, there has been 131,546 confirmed cases in Ethiopia leading to 2,033 deaths. Against this COVID-19 backdrop, IOM looks forward to these new controls reducing mobility restrictions and facilitating movement of goods, services and skills. Beyond commerce, IOM also views BCPs as vital for protecting people from falling prey to human smugglers and traffickers.

Plans are to open more BCPs in the Pagag, Kurmuk, and Fefrer border towns in Gambella, Benishangul Gumuz, and Somali regions, bordering South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia respectively.

During the inauguration attended by representatives from IOM and senior officials from INVEA, IOM Ethiopia received a ‘Certificate of Recognition’ from the Ethiopian authorities for the support to strengthening Ethiopia’s border management and control efforts.

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The establishment of this important BCP is supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

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Amid 2020 pandemic IOM supported over 2,500 migrants with voluntary return from Greece

Dudu and his family taking some selfie pictures before departing to Georgia. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM
A family from Iraq receiving transportation assistance from IOM to the airport in Athens. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM

Athens – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) supported the voluntary return of some 2,565 people from Greece to their home countries in 2020, in coordination with the Greek authorities and respective countries’ diplomatic representatives.

Amid hardships and challenges induced by COVID-19 in the past year—including mobility restrictions and closed borders—many migrants living in Greece expressed interest in returning voluntarily to their home countries.

“It is extremely important to be able to continue offering the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration support during this challenging period, as for many migrants, COVID-19 posed additional challenges to their stay in the EU,” explained Gianluca Rocco, Chief of the IOM Mission in Greece.

The 2,565 Returnees from Greece through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme originated from 46 countries, with the largest contingent (734 migrants) coming from Pakistan. This was followed by Georgia (529 migrants), Iraq (489), Afghanistan (188) and Iran (163). Thirty per cent of migrants assisted were males between the ages of 22 and 29.

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The number of returns fluctuated throughout 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, from 868 in the first quarter to 300 per month at the end of the year.  Since launched in Greece in 2010, IOM’s AVRR programme has assisted more than 50,000 people to voluntarily return to their home countries.

In 2020, IOM developed initiatives to overcome challenges, mitigate negative impact on migrants and ensure that Ministry of Health protocols were applied to all without discrimination. IOM medical teams provided assessments and medical examinations, including COVID-19 testing. In addition, relevant information was communicated through online outreach activities, and the dissemination of leaflets and posters to migrant communities. In parallel, helplines operating in 13 languages supported remote counselling as needed.

“We worked intensively with the Greek authorities and the Embassies of countries of origin to develop new cooperation mechanisms to overcome mobility restrictions and make the returns possible, particularly for the most vulnerable,” said IOM’s Rocco.

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IOM Greece also established an Online Scheduling Appointment (OSA) platform through which potential beneficiaries were able to book counselling appointments online.

When commercial flights were not available, IOM organized charter flights to Georgia and Iraq for 433 people in total in close collaboration with all relevant actors in Greece and the two destination countries.

Prior to their departure from Greece, migrants who applied for AVRR had the opportunity to access temporary accommodation facilities including the Open Centre for migrants (OCAVRR) in Athens.  IOM also provided a cash grant to cover returnees’ initial basic expenses after their departure.

Upon return, 1,008 migrants who qualified under the programme for in-kind reintegration assistance were able to use the support to set up small businesses (individually or in partnership), training programmes, temporary accommodation, job placements, medical support and material assistance.

IOM reiterates the importance of promoting the systematic inclusion of reintegration assistance as a force for stability in communities of return and as a bridge between migrant return and sustainable development.

READ  256 men, women, children die in Mediterranean Sea routes as at April 22

Download here for a snapshot view of the programme’s main 2020 highlights.

The project “The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the Prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return (AVRR/OCAVRR)” is 75 per cent  co-funded by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25 per cent by Greek National Funds.

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Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

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“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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