Poised to properly reintegrate victims of human trafficking and avert future occurrences, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons, NAPTIP, has set the stage to formalise reintegration procedures.
The Director General of the agency, Dame Julie Okah-Donli gave the hint at a three-day stakeholder’s workshop on the theme: “The Production of the Protocol for identification, Safe Return and Rehabilitation of Human Trafficking” in Calabar, Cross River State.
Okah-Donli, who lamented the embarrassment human trafficking, has caused Nigeria and its missions abroad, stated that NAPTIP was determined to end all forms of human trafficking as well as assist victims reintegrate fully into the society.
According to her; “the victims of trafficking, who are provided with reintegration assistance are not likely to be re-trafficked and so the need for a documented reintegration procedure”.
Emphasising the need for a Protocol, Okah-Donli said that the number of Nigerians, especially women, trapped in countries across Europe and Africa due to the stigma and socio-economic as well as psychological challenges they may face back home was unsettling.
“Large number of Nigerian women are trapped in Cote d’ Ivoire, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, Niger, Burkina Fasso, Morocco, Libya and countries in Europe and are subjected to sexual labour and exploitations,” Okah-Donli noted.
The Director General stated that, “this workshop is to pursue a common cause; combine a shared vision and chart a common path for the thousands of trafficked victims. Supported reintegration is a right owed to trafficked persons by virtue of their status as victims of crime and human rights violations”.
On the involvement of international countries in the fight to end human trafficking, the Director General commended Britain, Spain, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland for collaborating with NAPTIP.
“Successful reintegration requires cooperation between the repatriating and the receiving countries. I salute the commitment, sacrifice, technical manpower and financial resources though more need to be done to ensure that victims are given their rights to dignity and proper reintegration into society,” she said.
Declaring the workshop open, the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade described as worrisome the growing new trend of immigration and human trafficking in Nigeria.
Ayade said “human trafficking has assumed a more complex and complicated global phenomenon that is proving increasingly difficult to tackle. In Cross River State, women and children are the most vulnerable as they are trafficked to Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea”.
“Thousands of our able bodied young men and women are daily being deceived and smuggled out of the country through treacherous routes in search of better economic opportunities abroad”.
He urged the Nigerian Government to “institute programmes and projects aimed at addressing the issue of unemployment; increase access to better healthcare and create poverty alleviation initiatives” to deter illegal migration.
Ayade further urged NAPTIP to engage closely with States and Local Governments to win the fight against human trafficking, adding “it is fulfilling to know that NAPTIP has commenced the process of developing a protocol for identification, safe return and rehabilitation of trafficked persons”.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from foreign missions, civil society organisations and allied ministries, departments and agencies.