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Concern over worrisome trend of trafficking Nigerian ladies for domestic work, sexual pleasure 

Human trafficking is by every standard is an abominable practice. But while trafficked male victims most often are made to work as drivers, in factories among others, the females are always made to work as prostitutes or house helps often sexually assaulted. Many girls are said to have been either maimed or killed doing these debasing jobs. Are these all that the female gender is good for? PHILIPPINE OBETO DURU asks.

 

Jenifer, is a victim of human trafficking and as at the time of putting together this report was stranded in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai to be specific. She was promised a job in a restaurant in Dubai but three days after she arrived there, the story changed as she was bluntly told she was there to work as a prostitute. “I met a lady whose name is Chidera Nwabugo,  in Lagos. When we met, she  said she has a restaurant in Dubai where I will be selling food and drinks for her. I eventually came to Dubai with her.  Three days after I arrived Dubai, she said it is not food and drink business that I will be doing again but prostitution,” Jenifer said in a video made available to us.

 

Since she started working as a prostitute, the crestfallen young lady said she has paid her trafficker a whooping sum of N5million in the last three years. “I have slept with 550 men here in Dubai. Now I am stranded and frustrated.  She sold my paper, (documents) to somebody returning to Nigeria,”.

The trafficker, she added eventually  got married and ran away from Dubai and has returned to Nigeria where she has put to bed.

“I want to go back home because I am frustrated. I don’t have jobs or anything doing here in Dubai. Things are hard here for me and I want to go back home,”  Jenifer said in emotion laden voice.

 

Jenifer’s case is  just one out of innumerable and deplorable experiences Nigerian ladies trafficked abroad have been made to go through.

Telegraph.co.uk in December 2019 reported that nearly a quarter of young Nigerian women and girls responding to a survey said they had been subject to attempts to traffic them into sexual exploitation, domestic slavery or forced marriage.

“UK charity Plan International polled 500 Nigerian women in their teens and 20s on their experiences of and attitudes to migration and trafficking. The survey found that many were keen to seek a better life abroad but were also at risk of being coerced into dangerous situations.

READ  JIFORM appoints country coordinators, legal advisers, set to unveil new web

The survey found that 24 per cent of those questioned had nearly fallen victim to trafficking but had managed to escape.

And one in 10 of those surveyed said they knew someone who had been forced into domestic work, prostitution or some form of sexual exploitation either at home or abroad.

Quoting the  IOM on the numbers of women who are trafficked from Nigeria into Europe, particularly into Italy, pathfindersji.org said “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.”

These and many more are the ugly experiences of Nigerian young ladies in the hands of depraved fellow citizens working as traffickers.

 

Before Jenifer’s video was made available to us, a  28-year old Nigerian, Kemi, who was trafficked to Oman,  told of  how she is being sexually harassed and starved by her Omani boss.

Kemi left Oman in November 2016 to search for greener pastures after being talked into the deal by a close friend and upon arriving in there her host seized her international passports and other vital documents to retain her service as housemaid.

Narrating her ordeal to the President of Journalists International Forum for Migration (JIFORM), Ajibola Abayomi during an exclusive telephone chat, the troubled lady said within the last four years she has been resold four times to different masters where she worked as housemaid on monthly stipends that was never paid in most cases.

Some months ago according to her, she was traded off to her present master for 800 rials (N700, 000).
Although her current master placed her  on a monthly salary of N70,000 per month however she had  been under serious sexual harassment.

“At the current house I am now working, the man wants to sleep with me but I have been refusing him so he told me to go back to the office that brought me to him. I am being starved of food and kept indoors without being allowed to go out.

READ  29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

“I can no longer cope with this job so please I want to go back home. Kindly assist me. I have an Ordinary National Diploma from Offa Polytechnic; there are better opportunities in Nigeria. I am tired, all the money I have been getting I used to send it home to assist my younger ones” Kemi lamented.

Another   Nigerian lady, Omolola, also suffered serious sexual harassment in the hands of her aged boss in Lebanon before she was rescued.

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.

 

Following the helpless condition she 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.”

 

The founder of RebirthHub Africa, Omotola Fawunmi, who has been reaching out to many of the girls and facilitating their return especially from the Middle East, vehemently opposed to trafficking of Nigerian ladies for prostitution and despicable jobs abroad.

Omotola Fawumi

“This is not all what females are good for. We need to understand that the concept of people trafficking people and sexually assaulting them is power issue. It is a function of the man feeling he is superior to the woman. The buyer feeling he owns the slave he has bought. So it is a power issue.”

President of JIFORM , Ajibola Abayomi , described the plight of the victims  as one of the most disgusting things to note is the trafficking of the Nigerians girls abroad numbering over one million yearly according to the NAPTIP. Very dehumanizing is the manner the many of them were deceived  that all was well in especially the Middle East and Arab world, whereas the reverse is the case.

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

“What is giving opportunities for the criminality is the loss of hope of job opportunities for the youths at home. Unfortunately many of these ladies never knew prostitution is the order of the day whether as housemaid or otherwise. JIFORM will advise every Nigerian lady to shun deceptive adverts being used to cajole their minds. It is an evil plot that must be shunned. No point to embark on a journey you would regret later.”

READ  Niger breaks up Sudanese refugees sit-in as fire destroys their camp

 

The nation’s anti trafficking agency, the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) , said it has not been resting on its oars in coming to the aids of the embattled ladies.

 

Head of Intelligence and International Cooperation Unit NAPTIP, Angela Aleakhue Agbayekhai, said the agency has directly been  engaging the victims via telephone call/whatsapp chats, to interview them, learn first-hand their situation and location, transmitting information to the victims on location of Nigerian Mission(s) in that country as well as foreign partners (NGOs) they could contact for immediate assistance.

 

She added that the agency has also been transmitting victims’ information to relevant authorities  like MFA,  IOM,  NIA, NIDCOM etc) for urgent intervention. “We have been contacting victims’ family members to establish the circumstances that led to their being trafficked apprehending those culpable in their movement abroad (traffickers) for prosecution.

We also expose  repatriated victims to skill acquisition and empowerment.”

 

 

 

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

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Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  African migrants allege mistreatment in North Africa

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

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“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  Total number of Nigerians returned from Saudi Arabia hits 1,071

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

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“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

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IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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