Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has said it is imperative for countries in West Africa to synergy and collaborate for success to be recorded in the ongoing fight against trafficking in persons within the region.
The Chief of Mission of IOM in Nigeria, Mr Laurent De Boeck, gave the charge in his address at the inaugural ceremony of the three-day workshop focused on fights against trafficking that started from May 31, to June 2, 2023, in Abuja.
The workshop, which was organised by the Ministry of Solidarity and the Fight against Poverty, as Executive Secretariat of the National Committee for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons (CNLTP) was based on bilateral cooperation to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons in Nigeria and Cote d’ Ivoire.
De Boeck said the meeting centered on exchange, experience sharing and study visit to Nigeria between CNLTP and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) aimed at sharing lessons learnt and the best practices on human trafficking
He said synergy is very important for countries in the West African region to fight against trafficking in persons and therefore, this visit is very timely.
He said: “It comes at a time when NAPTIP will be commemorating 20 years of being in existence and has been instrumental in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria.
“A lot of milestones have been scored and NAPTIP has been a lead in the region, hence the interest by other countries to learn from the experience.
“One of the key aims of this study visit is to strengthen the government’s efforts, particularly in terms of sub-regional cooperation, in the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
“This study is part of assistance to victims of trafficking and smuggling of migrants project, funded by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and implemented by IOM Côte d’Ivoire in close collaboration with the National Committee for the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons in Cote d’Ivoire.”
He assured that the organisation would support Nigeria to tackle root causes of irregular migration, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, ranging from the need to strengthen efforts in behavioural change communication interventions.
He further promised that socio-economic opportunities would be provided to return migrants to their communities of origin, leverage on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 10:7 and 17, to provide post arrival, reception and protection assistance to over 30,000 Nigerians, of which 4,000 are victims of trafficking among other.
Speaking at the event, the Director-General of NAPTIP, Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, reiterated the need for shared values between both countries towards the protection of human rights, uphold peace and prosperity, as guiding principles for mutual cooperation.
She said: “Human trafficking and its multi-dimensional effect is a crime that affects every country.
“Although proportionality and strength may differ, trafficking in persons has continued to threaten the existence of humanity, which is why it is imperative we cooperate in the best interest of our citizens and all of society.
“The way we used to think about human trafficking has evolved into microcosms of much bigger problems.”
Regional Project Manager of Expertise France, Mr Modeste Krah, on his part, said the bi-lateral agreement signed between the two countries (Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire) in 2021 served as strategic framework in their fights against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
He said the study visit to Nigeria served as platform to further strengthen collaboration of combating heinous crime of human trafficking and smuggling.
He said: “Both Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria find themselves grappling with migration flows, serving as countries of origin, transit and destination.
“A detesting reality is that large number of the victims of trafficking rescued and cared for would have been trajectory to trafficking for sexual exploitation of Nigeria nationals.
“Such complexity pose immense challenges in the identification of victims and prosecution of trafficking, necessitating the concerted collaborative efforts between our two countries,” he said.
The workshop is being hosted under the auspices of the technical and financial support of IOM, and Expertise France had participants drawn from NAPTIP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria Immigration Service, IOM Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.