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JIFORM seeks urgent help for 30 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon

30 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon now stranded in the country have appealed to the Nigerian authorities to come to their rescue as videos of their predicament hit the social media.

The Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM), through its President, Ajibola Abayomi, relayed the message after exclusive encounter with victims through a statement on Friday and called for speedy rescue action from the government.

He said beyond lamentations, JIFORM had forwarded details of the human trafficking agents involved in the matter to the relevant agencies and shall diligently monitor it to the logical conclusion to ensure proper investigation and prosecution of all those involved.

The ladies all camped in one room with faulty toilet and other utilities are presently housed in a building at city of Dawra in Lebanon.

Narrating their ordeals, one of the victims who spoke on behalf others, Miss Adebisi Comfort Oluwatoyin with passport number A10597908, said they had to escape from inhumane treatment being meted to them by their mistresses and hosts to assemble at their present location.

The 23 years old lady hails from Ondo State, graduated from the Edo State Polytechnic, Ekpomma and was a resident in Osun state before departing Nigeria in December 2019.

“We are dying here and we need urgent rescue attention from our Nigerian government. We are appealing to Honourable Abike-Dabiri Erewa, Pastor Enoch Adeboye of Redeemed Church, Prophet Genesis of Celestial Church, Apostle Suleiman, Prohet T.B. Joshua and other men of God for prayers and help.
“Help us plead with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and others to save us. The Nigerian embassy in Lebanon have tried but we want to go back home.

READ  Dozens of migrants die in 30 days 

“Our stories are pathetic and regrettable. We were told by agents before we left Nigeria that we are going to be paid between N250,000 and N30O,0000 a month as teachers and house maids but getting here we were subjected to sexual labour and other terrible jobs.

“Our belongings and international passports were seized with no payments for the service we have been rendering for months. They loosen and cut our hairs with razor blade.

“Every day, we are being beaten with constant harassments from the Lebanese police. Our employers cooked all sorts of stories against us by lying that we stole their gold, killed their children and manhandled their aged ones without any evidence. The police and their immigration are always on their side. We are not getting justice and our lives are in danger.
“At the moment many of us are sick and down with ulcer, tuberculosis and other illness and the hospitals here are not attending to us because we have no document to prove our status. We are dying. It is really a crime to be a black in this world. We want to go back home and shall be contented with whatever rehabilitation scheme government can give us” Adebisi lamented.

Speaking from the United States of America, the Executive Director/Co-Founder of Rescue Africans In Slavery Organisation (RAIS), Ms Omotola Fawunmi who said she has been responsible for the upkeep of the ladies pleaded with the government and other agencies to join the rescue mission.

READ  Lebanon explosions: UNHCR seeks assistance for thousands of displaced families

“Over the years, we have been in involved in this. These ladies are really suffering. The Nigerian government must act fast. Apart from this case, there are over 300 of them trapped in Oman and thousands across other Asia countries, beyond sustaining the ladies, we have facilitated evacuation of thousands of human trafficking victims in last few years and also provided them with medical and series of rehabilitation supports. All of us must fight human trafficking to save our youths” she counseled.

Also worried about the development, the County Manager, The Migrant Project, Nigeria, Clare Henshaw called for swift action to be taken by NAPTIP and NIDCOM.

“First, we want the ladies to be rescued as soon as possible. Their condition is very critical because they don’t have good shelter, food and they need urgent medical attention. My personal conversation with Comfort showed that they were really in a bad state at the moment.

“After rescuing the ladies, there must be thorough investigation and punishment for the agents and other human traffickers involved in this.”

When contacted, the Nigeria Immigration Service, through its National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller James Sunday said all hands were on deck to redeem the situation by working with the NIDCOM and other agencies.
According him, the Nigerian ambassador and the ladies in Lebanon had been contacted for necessary intervention as he cautioned the ladies to refrain from further posts on the social media for security reasons.

Statement issued on behalf of NAPTIP Director General Barrister Julie Okah-Donli by the agency’s Press Officer, Mr Vincent Adekoye reads thus:
“The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) is deeply concerned and shares the pains of the Nigerian girls who are stranded in Lebanon.
“It will be recalled that since May 2020, NAPTIP has, through the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry of humanitarian affairs Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the EU -International Organisation for Migration joint initiative and the Nigerian Embassy in Lebanon repatriated more than 100 victims of forced labour from Lebanon.

READ  EU-IOM joint initiative celebrates its fourth anniversary: A lifeline to vulnerable and stranded migrants amid COVID-19

“The Agency will work assiduously with all relevant authorities and partners to locate these girls and ensure that they return safely as soon as possible.
NAPTIP reiterates its appeal to young Nigerians to beware of people dangling tempting jobs in foreign lands as fake labour agents who are traffickers deploy all kinds of tricks to lure their potential victims.”

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

READ  Illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders drop

“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

READ  Human traffickers in brutal exploits (1)

“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Stranded Nigerians in S"Africa, S'Arabia, China, others beg to be evacuated 

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

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

UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

READ  Forced displacement passes 80 million by mid-2020 as COVID-19 tests refugee protection globally

“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

READ  Stranded Nigerians in S"Africa, S'Arabia, China, others beg to be evacuated 

“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  Illegal border crossings at Europe’s external borders drop

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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