CLEEN Foundation launches project to prevent forced migration, trafficking of women, girls

By Chimezie Godfrey

The CLEEN Foundation has launched a novel project that will help to prevent forced migration and trafficking of women and girls in Nigeria.

The Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Benson Olugbuo who disclosed this in a statement made available to Newsdiaryonline on Thursday, stressed that the project will support and strengthen gender responsiveness of interventions from relevant agencies.

According to him, the project which is titled, “Preventing Forced Migration and Trafficking of Women and Girls in Nigeria: Build Resilience, Promote Sustainable Development,” was launched with support from United Nations Women and the Italian government.

“The project specifically aims at enabling a gender sensitive policy environment that addresses forced migration and trafficking and increasing gender sensitive information and awareness raising in source migration trafficking sites.

“The project also broadly seeks to support and strengthen the gender-responsiveness of interventions by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other relevant government agencies. 

“CLEEN Foundation, under the above-mentioned project will be responsible for implementing key activities in Edo and Lagos States that contributes to major outcomes.

“This contributes to enabling gender sensitive policy environment that addresses forced migration and trafficking is in place, whose design and implementation is influenced by women and girl’s rights organizations in source migration trafficking sites.

“Increased gender-sensitive information and awareness-raising in source migration-trafficking sites contribute to the prevention of women’s irregular migration and trafficking,” he stated.

Olugbuo pointed out that the Foundation has embarked on active collaborative engagement with various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies including NAPTIP and law enforcement institutions such as the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Immigration Service, civil society and community representatives in both project states. 

According to him, the intervention will involve the conduct of gender audit of protection services within existing shelters and safe homes and other services by front-line service providers. 

He added that this will form the basis for the development of specialized tools and trainings to enhance gender-responsive service delivery for security, health and justice sector agencies and training for community-based women’s organizations to enhance their advocacy and communication capacities in the two project states. 

He commended the activities of government agencies charged with the mandates towards the prevention of forced migration and trafficking of women and girls in Nigeria, prosecution of enablers and traffickers and enforcement of extant relevant laws. 

The Executive Director also appreciated the collective measures taken by international development organisations and national agencies in the fight against endemic issues of forced migration and human trafficking in Nigeria. 

He stressed that the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria also comes with implications for human trafficking and forced migration as Nigeria continues to contribute the largest share of persons trafficked and or forcefully immigrated. 

He added that the country remains a source, transit and destination point on human trafficking. 

He also pointed out that the latest Global Slavery Index (2018) Report ranks Nigeria as 32/167 of the countries with the highest number of slaves – 1,386,000. 

“Accordingly, we call on all critical stakeholders working to curb the rate of forced migration and human trafficking, to remember the plight of women and girls subjected to trafficking, as they remain a substantial number of victims of human trafficking and forced migration. 

“While we commend the government for a number of interventions undertaken to address these concerns so far, we urge the Federal and state governments to show greater commitment in formulating more gender sensitive policies and establishing gender sensitive protection services for trafficked women and girls. 

“CLEEN will continue to work collaboratively with key stakeholders in ensuring that the project outcomes are achieved,” he stated.

Olugbuo called for the domestication of the Child Right’s Act, among other critical recommendations.

 “The Federal and State Governments should domesticate the VAPP Act, 2015 and the Child Right’s Act 2003 for greater protection of women and girls in Nigeria.  

“Improve coordination among law enforcement actors, including NAPTIP, the Nigerian Immigration Service, Police, and others.

“Embark on vigorous investigation and prosecution, and convict traffickers and impose stringent sentences to serve as deterrent.

“Support NAPTIP to achieve its mandate particularly in providing adequate victim care and expanding of protection shelters. 

“Law enforcement agencies should be professional, gender sensitive and proactive in enforcing the relevant protective laws.

“Should work with endemic communities to engender communal trust, awareness creation and partnership aimed at preventing further trafficking of women and girls and forced migration,” he stated.

He also urged oversight bodies of the law enforcement agencies to monitor the conduct of security personnel and commit to applying accountability measures in the event of any rights violations of trafficked women and girls by state security actors.

He further called for equipment of gender desk offices across the state commands and strengthen anti-trafficking units, among others.