Nigeria has been described as a “source, transit, and destination country for women and children” (US Department of State, 2017) subjected to cross-border labor and sex trafficking. Few of these victims are able to receive asylum or victim services in the European countries to which they are trafficked because of an unfounded perception that a multitude of services exist in the victim’s home country of Nigeria. For this reason, a large number of these women are sent back to Nigeria.
Human trafficking, however, comes in different forms and women are not its only victims. As it can be described as “the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation” (New Telegraph Online, 2017), it is a crime against both female and male victims. Just as recently as early 2018, the world was shocked to listen to individuals such as Victor from Edo State, Nigeria, recounting how he and other African migrants were being auctioned off as slaves in Libya, having failed to cross over the Mediterranean to Europe. Today, hundreds of Africans – predominantly Nigerians – are still stranded in Libya and neighbouring countries.
It remains an ongoing struggle..
The Government of Nigeria does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by investigating, prosecuting, and convicting traffickers; conducting anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials; and repatriating some Nigerian trafficking victims identified abroad. However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.– US Department of State (2018)
And yet, upon returning to Nigeria, these victims are not afforded the necessary care or attention, due to lack of formal procedures and funding within the government. While the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) exists, it must be strengthened and afforded the required resources to carry out its mandate. The Nigerian government runs 9 short-term shelters throughout the country, where victims may receive services for 6 weeks. Beyond this period, however, the government relies on services provided to victims by local NGO’s, which receive very little funding and all too often rely on the generosity of international agencies and private sponsors.
The City of Light and Liberation Foundation is one such organization aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking on the one hand, and doing its part to eliminate it on the other hand through the creation of economic opportunities. While the organization recognizes the need to reintegrate and empower previous victims of human trafficking, it strongly believes that “prevention is better than cure” and the solution rested on offering vocational training programs with the focus on equipping individuals to become economic agents and financially independent.Key areas the project will be focusing on are human trafficking, unemployment and dependency. The project specifically seeks to raise awareness around human trafficking and tackles presumptions of a ‘greener pasture’ in the West as well as explores potential related dangers.
City of Light has been forming a network of both international and local organizations involved in trafficking work in Nigeria since 2000. The organization has met with the International Office on Migration and government social workers in order to discuss a partnership in the delivery of services to repatriated victims. In the past, City of Light’s training programs were registered and supervised by the Ondo State Ministry of Education. Discussions are in progress to ensure this program will also be officially registered.
To find out more about trafficking globally, download the UN’s 2016 2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons here.