By Ajibola Abayomi,
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), launched a new project in Abuja, Nigeria, to raise awareness of the scourge of human trafficking among populations at risk in migration prone areas across the country.
The 23 March launch marked the tenth anniversary of the Nigeria–Switzerland Migration Partnership. The partnership between the two countries began in February 2011 and has so far successfully implemented close to 50 projects dedicated to migration and border management, fighting trafficking in persons, and voluntary return and reintegration.
Since 2017, IOM has assisted the voluntary return and reintegration of more than 21,500 Nigerian migrants, of which approximately 15 per cent are victims of trafficking from Libya, Mali, Europe and the Middle East, among others.
Across West and Central Africa, IOM’s counter-trafficking efforts focus on a ‘whole of route approach’, aiming to eliminate the incentive of embarking on perilous journeys, and encourage stronger partnerships between the European Union and Africa in addressing irregular migration, exchange of information on migratory flows, prevent irregular migration and increase the capacities of border protection and improve protection in line with international law.
The project was kickstarted by Karin Keller-Sutter, the Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police of Switzerland.
“I believe this project is a perfect symbol of our current state of the migration partnership and, more importantly, our future cooperation,” said Keller-Sutter at the inauguration event. “We are not afraid to tackle difficult issues such as human trafficking jointly and we are doing it in an innovative, holistic and balanced partnership approach.,” she added.
As part of creating awareness and promoting sustainable reintegration, IOM purchased and designed an awareness-raising travelling bus equipped with audio-visual and printed information to alert potential migrants risks and dangers that may rise with irregular migration Nigeria.
“The Blue Bus is a one-stop shop where vulnerable migrants, including community members, can get information on risks associated with trafficking in persons, where to report cases, and on-spot counselling services,” said Prestage Murima, IOM Nigeria Officer in Charge.
Since 2001, IOM has been supporting the efforts of the Government of Nigeria to manage migration through capacity-building, advisory services, and technical assistance on migration matters, including migration health and information, assisted voluntary return and reintegration, and counter-trafficking. Strong collaboration has been established with national migration stakeholders to enhance border management, fight trafficking in persons, reduce irregular migration, and mainstream migration in the country’s development plans.
The project Preventing Trafficking in Persons through a Travelling Awareness-Raising Exposition is funded by the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration.