The Federal Government and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria, have joined forces to prevent the heinous crime been perpetrated by human traffickers across the country.
To achieve the purpose, the government and IOM have inaugurated a tool to strengthen the identification, screening, and reporting of victims of trafficking in Nigeria.
As stated, the tool would ensure a standardised approach to the identification, referral, and protection of Victims of Trafficking (VoTs).
IOM Chief of Mission, Franz Celestin, said that the tool was inaugurated as part of activities lined up to commemorate the 2021 World Day against Trafficking in Persons and that the inauguration was a collaboration between the IOM and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP)
Through a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by the Head of Communication, IOM Nigeria, Stylia Kampani, Celestin noted that there was a need for urgent intervention by the stakeholders since COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation of vulnerable persons who, due to their worsened economic situation, were recruited for labour or sexual exploitation.
According to him, the inauguration coincides with this year’s commemoration of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, (WDATIP) with the theme: ’Victims Voices take the Lead’. The day is established to raise awareness of the plight of victims of trafficking and promote and protect their rights.
He noted that the tools developed are a first step in providing a voice to the victims as it allows them to share their experiences, help service providers facilitate referral pathways and provide comprehensive protection services.
IOM Chief of Mission said that the initiative would strengthen the identification process and ensure that more VoTs were referred to the right services.
“I believe this profiling exercise will strengthen the understanding of Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria and inform the development of national policies and future programming,” he added.
According to Celestin, data collected from screening activities will be disaggregated by sex, age, forms of exploitation, and other relevant indicators.
The aim, he added, was to provide first-line officials with harmonised tools to effectively identify and refer victims of human trafficking in line with the National Referral Mechanism.
“The process for the development of these tools commenced in November 2020 and received reviews from relevant stakeholders to ensure that the tools are comprehensive and stand the test of time.
“Following the launch, the tools will be piloted in Edo, Lagos, and Delta states where NAPTIP officials will be trained on how to use them. Additionally, screening and reporting tools will be rolled out along the Nigerian border at points of entry and exit,” the statement said.
NAPTIP Director-General, Sen. Basheer Mohammed, said that victims of human trafficking need to be protected to ensure they live a life of integrity devoid of any form of dehumanisation and degrading treatment.
Data from the IOM show that since 2017, the UN agency had provided support to 21,771 returnees out of which 2,302 were Victims of Trafficking.