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Enslaved in holy land: 138 trafficked Nigerian ladies seek return from S’Arabia

Days after the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) raised the alarm over critical situation of some trafficked 30 Nigerian ladies stranded in Lebanon, the body has again uncovered another set of Nigerians in hundreds battling with similar fate in Saudi Arabia.

JIFORM President, Ajibola Abayomi, in statement made available to the media on Sunday said the body had profile of 138 ladies trafficked to the Arabian nation by a company identified as TTCO.

Some of the names on list included 23 years old Amina Idris an indigene of Kano whose passport is beign withheld by her host, Atanda Easter Idowu, 42 with passport number A09118374; Salawu Yetunde Victoria, 37, with passport number A08233422 both from Oyo State and Gift Israel Johnnu, 25, with passport number A09136678 from Rivers State.
He said the revelation was unraveled in the data made available to JIFORM by the Rescue Africans In Slavery (RAIS), a foundation advocating against human trafficking and child labour.

“We commend the spirited effort of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State for picking the bills of 55 victims out of 120 list of trafficked ladies in Lebanon recently released by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).

READ  European states too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, give little on the humanitarian, human rights aspects--Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

“Since we launched rescue campaign that led to the rescue of the 30 girls and others in Lebanon by the Nigerian government, several international agencies had been reaching out to us and we have been directing them to relate with the National Agency for Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) accordingly. JIFORM is committed to humanitarian service and we are willing to do more” Ajibola stated.

Calling for another prompt attention from the Federal Government, the JIFORM President said some of the ladies at different locations in the country were in critical health condition and needed to be attended to in good time.

Also worried by the situation, the Executive Director of RAIS, Ms Omotola Fawunmi said although the temporal arrangement had been made to give the ladies first aid treatment in Saudi Arabia, she however pleaded for action to save the lives of the trafficked victims.

 

One of the victims who spoke under anonymity, an English and Social Studies graduate from Adeniran Ogunsanya Colleague of Education, Lagos state while appealing for help said all efforts to get the attention of the Nigerian ambassador in Saudi Arabia have proved abortive as non- English speaking staff placed as front desk officers refused to give them attention.

READ  Senate committee hails NIgerians abroad as country's best assets

The 26 years old lady on salary equivalent of N70, 000 per month lamented that she was fed with hash treatments being meted to her by her host. The Ogun state indigene said she applied as a teacher through her agents over two years ago only to be given out as house maid when she arrived at the country.

Also appealing for government’s attention, The Migrant Project (TMP), Media Lead, Tayo Elegbede, noted with concern that:”The trend of stranded Nigerians in dire conditions across the Middle East is, unfortunately, worrisome.

“We appeal to relevant authorities to ensure the safe and speedy return of these ladies and other Nigerians trapped across the Middle East. Unarguably, there is the need to decipher and address the fundamental factors responsible for gross undocumented migration of Nigerians, particularly from South-West states, to Middle East countries.

“Public campaigns and enlightenment on the risk and realities of irregular migration and human trafficking need to be advanced across the nooks and cranny of the country, whilst providing viable alternatives.”

READ  Travel ban on Nigeria: Don't punish Nigerians for govt's inefficiencies, Atiku tells Trump

 

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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  European states too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, give little on the humanitarian, human rights aspects--Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

“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  COVID 19: 15, 300 Ethiopian migrants return home

“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  50,000 migrants stranded at international borders, quarantine and transit centres in West and North Africa

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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  Hungary urged to ensure access for asylum seekers

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  European states too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, give little on the humanitarian, human rights aspects--Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

“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  IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre releases report on 'Migration from and within West and North Africa'

“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  Editorial: Trump’s anti-refugee actions are running aground across the country

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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