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NIgeria’s human trafficking fact sheet by Pathfinders

Pathfimders, a frontline organization
committed to eradicating sexual violence and the sexual exploitation of women and girls in Nigeria here provides a fact sheet on human trafficking in Nigeria.
Much as.it is favouraby disposed  to sharing information, the organization cautioned that credit should be it for information taken from its works.
Find below  the  fact sheet as  presented by Pathfinders.
• Human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, involves the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain and is a $150 billion global industry. Two thirds of this figure ($99 billion) is generated from commercial sexual exploitation, while another $51 billion results from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities. Supra. The average woman trafficked for forced sexual servitude/exploitation generates $100,000 in annual profits (anywhere from 100% to 1,000% return on investment) (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)). According to the United Nations, the smuggling route from East, North and West Africa to Europe is said to generate $150 million in annual profits ( $35 billion globally).
• Estimates released by the Global Slavery Index in July 2018 indicate that there are 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide, 71% of whom are women and girls and 25% of which are children. (It is noteworthy that the UNODC’s January 7, 2019 Report now estimates the number of children in slavery at almost 1/3 of all global victims.) 99% of the 4.8 million victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016 were women and girls, with one in five being children (ILO, 2017). Women and girls represented 84% of the 15.4 million people in forced marriages, and 59% of those in private forced labour (8.7 Alliance 2017 Report). The Index maintains that modern day slavery is most prevalent in Africa (with 9.24 million slaves and an average vulnerability score of 62/100).
• Human trafficking is a high profit, low risk business which allows traffickers to generally operate with impunity. Globally, in 2018, there were only a total of 11,096 prosecutions (down from 17,471 in 2017) and 7,481 convictions (up from 7,135 in 2017). Of all the global victims, only 85,613 were identified (down from 96,960 in 2017).  See 2019 U.S. State Department Trafficking In Persons Report.  A total of 1,253 prosecutions (down from 1,325 in 2017) and 1,190 convictions (more than double the 454 convictions in 2017) were generated on the entire African continent in 2018.  See 2019 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report.
• Nigeria remains a source, transit and destination country when it comes to human trafficking.  Per the latest Global Slavery Index (2018) Report, Nigeria ranks 32/167 of the countries with the highest number of slaves – 1,386,000 – and its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reports that the average age of trafficked children in Nigeria, now upgraded to a Tier 2 country on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons Report (2019), is 15. NAPTIP further contends that 75% of those who are trafficked within Nigeria are trafficked across states, while 23% are trafficked within states. Only 2% of those who are trafficked are trafficked outside the country, according to NAPTIP (2016). It is the third most common crime in Nigeria after drug trafficking and economic fraud (UNESCO, 2006).  The general factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking in Nigeria include extreme poverty (now the world’s poverty capital), corruption, conflict, climate change/resulting migration and western consumerism.
• The total number of human trafficking victims outside of Nigeria is largely unknown. However, it is undisputed that principally due to Nigeria’s population, Nigeria is routinely listed as one of the countries with the largest number of trafficking victims overseas (particularly in Europe), with victims identified in 34 countries in four regions in 2018. The recent scourge of unsafe migration has highlighted Nigeria’s challenges in this area, with one former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Mr. Martin Uhomoibhi) contending in June 2017 that in 2016 alone, 602,000 Nigerians endeavoured to migrate to Europe via the Sahara Desert. According to Mr. Uhomoibhi, 27,000 of these migrants died en route. Also pretty alarming is his claim that of those who perished on the journey, 68% were Nigerian university graduates. Most estimates, however, place the total number of Nigerians arriving Europe in 2016 at about 40,000 and about 18,000 in 2017 (men, women and children). In 2016, Nigerians accounted for about 21% of the total 181,000 migrants braving the Mediterranean to arrive into Italy. In 2017, that number decreased to 15.5% of total migrants arriving Italy (119,000) in light of the numerous efforts made by Italy and the European Union to stem the flow of migrants from Libya.  UNHCR statistics indicate that in 2018, the number of Nigerian arrivals by sea and land into Europe continued to decline (1,250 arrived in Italy- 5% of total arrivals).  Since then, Nigerian  arrivals have continued to decline.  According to UNHCR statistics, Nigerians were not amongst the top 10 nationalities of arrivals by land or sea into Greece, Spain or Italy (the three primary countries for arrivals) in 2019.  (In fact, in Italy, Nigerians represented a meagre 2.1% of the total 11,000 land and sea arrivals in 2019 and numbers have continued to drop since 2017.)  The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) further reports that as of January 31, 2020, there were 47,079 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya.  Again, Nigerians were not within the top 10 nationalities of those registered with IOM in Libya, the country which many experts have considered the unsafe migration gateway into Europe (particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa) in recent years.  Those statistics notwithstanding, the total number that currently embark on the journey from Nigeria to Europe remains largely unknown.
• The overwhelming majority of trafficking victims and migrants make the treacherous journey from Edo State (particularly Benin) and Delta States to Kano, from where they are smuggled into Niger or Algeria before traversing 500 miles over the Sahara Desert into Libya.  CNN contends that Edo State is the most trafficked through destination in Africa.  In Libya, migrants are held in detention camps, generally for several weeks to months, before they are placed in unseaworthy dinghies or boats on the Mediterranean Sea. According to IOM, there are approximately 356,000 IDPs  (as of November 2019) and 636,000 refugees and migrants in Libya (as of January 2020), the country from which a large percentage of migrants attempt the journey into Europe.  Organ trafficking has been on the rise in Libya.  According to IOM, in July 2018, over 60,000 Nigerians remained trapped in Libya, with 50% of them hailing from Edo State.  NAPTIP, in its 2018 Report, confirms that the largest number of victims rescued outside of Nigeria were rescued from Libya and are from Edo State.  Statistics for 2019 have yet to be released.
• There are more readily available statistics on the numbers of women who are trafficked from Nigeria into Europe, particularly into Italy. According to IOM, approximately 11,000 women arrived via the Mediterranean Sea into Italy in 2016, again mostly from Edo. IOM estimates that 80% of these young women arriving from Nigeria – whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 – will likely be forced into prostitution as sex trafficking victims. Supra.  (According to Italian authorities, there are between 10,000 to 30,000 Nigerian women working in prostitution on the streets of Italy.)  90% of migrant women arriving into Italy from Libya arrive with bruises and other signs of violence. (In general, 83.5% of all Nigerians interviewed in 2017 reported to have suffered from physical violence of any kind during the journey, most often in Libya. A more recent December 2018 UN Report notes narratives by Nigerian migrants of unlawful killings, gang rape, prostitution, arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane treatment, unpaid wages, slavery, human trafficking, racism and xenophobia in Libya.)  In 2017, a total of 18,000 Nigerian migrants were recorded to have arrived into Europe via the Mediterranean, 5,400 of which were women (UNHCR, 2018).  It is noteworthy that between 2014-2016, IOM recorded an almost 600% increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean. That figure is now on the decline, as Nigerians are no longer within the top ten nationalities of arrivals by land or sea in 2019.
• Edo State has long been an internationally recognized sex trafficking hub, with built in infrastructures and networks which support the sale of human bodies. According to IOM, an astounding 94% of all Nigerian women trafficked to Europe for prostitution hail from Edo State, with Italy being the number one destination country.  In fact, a 2003 United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute Report concluded that “virtually every Benin family has one member or the other involved in trafficking either as a victim, sponsor, madam or trafficker.”  The souls and bodies of survivors are turned into commodities for financial gain while the survivors themselves are held in debt bondage, severely abused (often gang raped and physically assaulted), starved, tortured or infected with various sexually transmitted diseases before being deported back to Nigeria. Others who are victims of organ trafficking are murdered and never make it back to Nigeria.
In August 2017, the current Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, launched the Edo State Task Force Against Human Trafficking to fight the scourge of human trafficking and unsafe migration in the State.  (The multiagency and multidisciplinary Task Force was a recommendation by Pathfinders to the Governor following our successful consultation for the state and organization of the Edo State Workshop on Human Trafficking in May 2017.)  Codification of the Task Force to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases in Edo state (total of 56 investigations and 20 pending prosecutions in 2018, following an allocation of N242 million by the state government) occurred on May 23, 2018 when Governor Obaseki signed into law the Edo State Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Bill (2018) in Abuja.  The new Act, which was approved by the Edo State House of Assembly in March 2018 (just shortly after the Oba of Benin’s pronouncement on March 9th renouncing all curses which had been placed on victims of human trafficking in Edo State by juju priests), “provides an effective and comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of human trafficking and related offenses in Edo State,” according to Governor Obaseki.  Delta State has since followed suit, creating its own anti-trafficking Task Force in April 2019.  It is noteworthy that since the Oba of Benin’s pronouncement, the introduction of the Edo State law and the Task Force’s efforts, international donor efforts targeting the reduction of trafficking in Edo State and the European Union’s  (EU) externalization policies of border control and accompanying legislative wall, traffickers are pushing the trade underground and/or recruiting naive victims from other States, including Kogi, Ondo, Bayelsa and Calabar.  Trafficking from Nigeria to other African countries (particularly Cameroon, Ghana and Mali) and the Middle East is also on the rise, with Mali being the primary destination country from which would be victims are rescued by NAPTIP.
• In December 2016, the EU and IOM developed the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Re-integration in Africa to address the challenges of unsafe migration. The Initiative is being implemented in 14 African countries, including Nigeria, where as of September 2019, close to 12,000 migrants have been voluntarily repatriated (mostly from Niger and Libya). As of September 2019, a total of 14,849 Nigerians have received return, post arrival reception and reintegration assistance via the Joint Initiative.  Prior to the development of the aforementioned Joint Initiative, i.e., in March 2015, Nigeria entered into the Common Agenda for Migration and Mobility Agreement with the EU to address the following: (1) improving legal migration and mobility; (2) preventing and combatting unsafe migration and human trafficking; (3) addressing the root causes and maximizing the development impact of migration; and (4) promoting international protection and support for internally displaced persons. The EU is currently negotiating a readmission agreement with Nigeria that would force repatriations.
• Although prostitution remains the largest category for Nigerian female trafficking victims who travel abroad, child labour is certainly another, with children engaged in domestic labour, forced begging, quarrying gravel and armed conflict. Women and girls are also engaged in domestic servitude, with NAPTIP’s 2018 Report noting this category as the second highest in reported cases after foreign travel for prostitution.  According to the same report, most reported male victims of trafficking are age 11 and under, with most female victims (the overwhelming majority of identified victims in Nigeria) being over 18 years of age. Most rescued victims from the same report remain from Edo State, with Kano following.  According to the US State Department’s 2019 TIP Report, NAPTIP received 938 cases for investigation, completed 192 investigations, prosecuted at least 64 suspects in 64 cases, and convicted 43 traffickers, compared with receiving 662 cases for investigation, completing 116 investigations, 43 prosecutions, and 26 convictions in the previous reporting period. (It is noteworthy that NAPTIP’s 2018 Report contradicts these figures, instead noting that it received 1,076 cases for investigation, completed 206 investigations, prosecuted 75 matters and convicted 50 persons.) In addition, NAPTIP convicted eight perpetrators (largest category) for ‘procurement of person for sexual exploitation.’
• According to our preliminary research gleaned from hundreds of repatriating survivors of sex trafficking in Edo State, poverty remains the number one factor rendering women and girls vulnerable to sex trafficking.  However, additional factors such as parental pressure, eroded mindset/values, cultural acceptance of prostitution, limited education and economic opportunities combine to render young women and girls vulnerable to being trafficked.  As a result, we at Pathfinders have successfully developed a trafficking profile based on 12 factors that establish our vulnerability criteria for potential female victims aged 15-25 years.
• At Pathfinders, our theory of change is that trafficking ends when human dignity is restored.  That restoration requires government engagement, empowered communities and access for individuals.  We also believe that the fight against sex trafficking requires an interdisciplinary approach that utilizes a combined human rights, cognitive/behavior restructuring and an economic development methodology. As such, we are working to ensure that every young woman in Nigeria has access, i.e., an opportunity to live a life that is dignified and one that is graced with self determination; one where she is not robbed of agency. To advance our goal of structural transformation on the African continent, we are building a community of survivors who are becoming awakened to their potential and are not only poverty reduction driven, but are laser focused on wealth creation for themselves, their local communities and the continent. Many are returning to school, while others are small business owners; all are committed to changing their narratives from victim to survivor to Pathfinders advocate.
• Our solution to Nigeria’s sex trafficking problem is Project Restore, a Project we are painstakingly designing to holistically address the issue by providing customized interventions in local government areas, beginning in Edo State.

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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.

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“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.

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“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. 

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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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