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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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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IOM provides food vouchers to vulnerable refugees and migrants affected by COVID-19 in Brazil

 Nearly 4,000 vulnerable refugees and migrants in Brazil affected by mobility restrictions and the socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving vouchers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to purchase food and other basic items.  The vouchers are one-time offers, valued at about USD 100.

IOM is closely coordinating the activity with local governments and 31 humanitarian partners, prioritizing families with children and elderly persons who face food insecurity due to lack of a regular income.

The distribution of the vouchers is taking place in more than half of Brazil’s states, states which were selected based on those locations where the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are living. In particular, Venezuelans relocated by the Federal Government are a top priority. They reside in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Pará, and the federal district, Brasilia.

Other states have been selected based on the requests by the local governments and civil society organizations, such as the state of Acre. Many are located at the triple border area shared by Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, where migrants and refugees have been stranded due to COVID-19’s border restrictions.

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In September, IOM reported on the hindered mobility that has been one of the most common impacts of COVID-19 on different categories of refugees and migrants across Latin America, especially Venezuelans.

Many migrants are unable to continue their journey and remain stranded in transit countries; many others cannot not leave their countries to embark on the first legs of their journeys. Migrants stranded at airports, land border crossing areas or at sea were featured in multiple reports, as were migrants camping in front of Embassies asking for support from their Governments (for example, hundreds of migrants from the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have been camping outside their respective embassies in Chile requesting support to return home).

That is the situation IOM is responding to in Brazil.

To Miriangela, a Venezuelan who arrived in Rio de Janeiro two years ago, this support is essential. “I live alone with my 7-year-old son and I’m not working at the moment. With the voucher I can buy food and cleaning products,” she explained.

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In Brasilia, IOM’s activity also benefits some 60 Warao Venezuelans, members of indigenous tribes. “We are very grateful for the help. This is the first time that we have received a food voucher, being able to choose what we will buy,” said Nilda, who had been living in the city for two months with eight other family members.

Vinícius Duque, a coordinator of Policies for Migrants and Promotion of Decent Work from the city of São Paulo, explained: “Networking is essential in this moment of public emergency. More than ever, these partnerships need to be strengthened. This action is the result of a joint effort between IOM and the government, contributing uniquely to expand the different actions and policies that have been developed on different fronts, benefiting immigrant families in situations of extreme vulnerability in the city of São Paulo.”

This initiative is part of the IOM Global Response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has a national partnership with Sodexo Pass do Brasil and the Stop Hunger Institute for the issuance of vouchers.  Financial support is granted by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the United States Department of State.

READ  EU headquarters built by undocumented migrants, workers claim

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Brazil, Stéphane Rostiaux, said: “At this time, when many families have suffered not only from the health effects of the pandemic but also from the socioeconomic impact, this support which allows food provision respecting people’s autonomy is essential.”

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Over 100 stranded Ugandan women provided with return assistance from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

 

On Tuesday (01/12) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 105 stranded Ugandan women, including victims of trafficking, to return home from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). They were stranded due to COVID-19.

Thousands of Ugandan migrant workers are working in KSA and other parts of the Middle East, mainly as domestic workers and security guards. When COVID-19 started, many lost their jobs. They also faced stigma and xenophobia. Prior to the pandemic, most of the 105 women who returned home safely had been sending money back home to support their families.

The women arrived in Uganda on a return flight funded by German Humanitarian Assistance, in co-ordination with authorities in Saudi Arabia and Uganda. Upon arrival, many looked relieved to be home, despite evident signs of stress.

“At least, I thank God I have returned alive,” one woman said to another as they walked towards the buses taking them to their overnight accommodation.

READ  Horrors of asylum seekers (1)

“The plight of many migrant workers in the COVID-19 era highlights both the devastation of the pandemic as well as the importance of organized international labour migration,” said IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage.

The economic impact of COVID-19 on these women, and on migrant workers in general, has been devastating. Ugandans working abroad contributed approximately 4.5 percent to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product, placing it above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 2.8 percent.  IOM is working with the Ugandan and Gulf nations as well as other partners to enhance labour rights and protection for migrant workers.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 is affecting the employment prospects of many, and IOM is offering assistance during this difficult period. We commend the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which contributed to ‘leaving no one behind’ and helping the most vulnerable to return home voluntarily,” explained Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa.

READ  Many Ethiopians seeking jobs in S’Arabia unaware of Yemen's degree of conflict

The return of these 105 women is the second intervention of IOM Uganda to support the return of stranded migrants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, IOM in Uganda and Bahrain helped 113 Ugandan women return from Saudi Arabia, following an appeal for help by the Ugandan authorities.

“The information from the Uganda Government indicating in May that more than 2,400 mostly vulnerable Ugandan migrant workers were stranded abroad was distressing enough and, as IOM, we are doing all we can to improve the safety, welfare and dignity of migrant workers from the region,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa.

Many migrant workers from Uganda and Africa remain stranded and without work. They are facing tremendous difficulties abroad, and may face even greater challenges when they return.

These returns are part of IOM Uganda’s support in respect of COVID-19. IOM has also supported the Government with COVID-19 surveillance at the Entebbe International Airport and other points of entry.

READ  Displaced Yemen children at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity  

 

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120 Central African, Sudanese refugees resettled to France

Over the past week (starting 27/11), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated the resettlement of 120 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) to France. The refugees, including 65 women and 55 men left N’Djamena (Chad) on a chartered flight last Friday morning. Many had spent more than ten years in Chad, awaiting a chance to be resettled and restart their lives.

All COVID-19 sanitary protocols were adhered to during the resettlement operation (including PCR-testing to COVID-19 prior departure). In addition to COVID-19 screening, the refugees were screened for medical conditions and received in-depth pre-departure orientation to ensure their integration in their new society goes as smoothly as possible.

Upon arrival in France, the refugees were welcomed by French NGOs who will provide administrative and social support for a one-year period.

“Resettlement offers refugees a unique opportunity to rebuild their lives in dignity. It is thus an important part of finding durable solutions to refugee situations, of which we are proud to participate,” said Anne Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.

READ  Only 189 migrants returned to Turkey despite EU refugee pact

With more than 480,000 refugees living in 14 camps and various urban centres, Chad is one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in West and Central Africa. IOM works closely with Government, non-governmental and UN partners, to ensure that the most vulnerable among them have access to durable and lifesaving solutions such as resettlement to a third country.

This includes eligibility assessment and referral, accommodation in a transit centre (once refugee status has been determined and the resettlement process has been initiated), pre-departure medical screening, vulnerability assessment, flight and support for durable integration in the destination country.

In 2020, IOM in Chad resettled 312 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic to France, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway.

Djamal’s Story

I arrived in Chad from the Central African Republic with my mother and my seven siblings in 2014. I was 16 years old. We fled because of the violence in our country. When we arrived, we had nothing. We had no money, and we knew no one. We first went to Moundou [Southern Chad]. From there, international organizations helped us contact family members. Afterwards, we went to the Doholo refugee camp [near the border with CAR] to be registered as refugees. It was not easy. In the camp, my mother learnt about nutritional health and started working as an assistant in the health centre. The little that she earned helped us make ends meet. It was this work that helped us survive while we lived in the camp. We are happy to be going to France. I have made some friends here. Some of them work as drivers, others want to go back to school. My dream is to become a pilot. I have always been fascinated by planes, and I hope that in France, I will be able to realize my dream.‎

READ  Helping migrant shipwreck survivors to deal with trauma

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