As part of measures to address the growing and worrying incidents of human trafficking, child exploitation and modern slavery, the U.K. Home Office and its Department for International Development (DfID) have set up a £5.5 million aid package for governments, law enforcement and legislative action.
This was announced today as part of the broad commitment of the U.K. government to work in collaboration with source and transit countries to stop the menace, which affects a number of commonwealth countries, with a toll on vulnerable victims and entire societies.
“The UK and the Commonwealth are stepping up to fight one of the greatest injustices of our time – the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable people by predators,” said Penny Mordaunt, International Development Secretary.
Nigeria is particularly affected as a source country for human trafficking, with transit points running from southern Nigeria (notoriously Edo State and its environs) through Kano and up to Niger Republic and the first port of call on the Mediterranean route to Europe, Libya.
Mordaunt continued that: “The Commonwealth is uniting to take on this challenge and our renewed commitment to end exploitation of anyone, anywhere, is vital in a world where over 40 million people are still being forced to live in these barbaric conditions.”
The package of aid supports includes, among other things: £500,000 to support tough new legislation to prevent and tackle human trafficking and forced labour in nine Commonwealth countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, and Sri Lanka – and supporting the scrutiny and oversight of the response to human trafficking.
The International Organization for Migration says that Nigeria remains the top country in sub-saharan Africa with the most migrant flows out of the continent, with top arrivals by sea to Italy in 2016 at over 37,000 – more than Eritrea, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and the Gambia.
In 2015 alone, women accounted for 45% of such immigrants, most of which are subject to rape in the migrant route, a 2017 UNICEF report stating that:
“Nearly half the women and children interviewed had experienced sexual abuse during migration – often multiple times and in multiple locations.”
It is estimated that Nigeria has a net migration rate of -0.3 per 1,000 population, in a country with extremely porous borders.
In addressing the Nigerian situation, both DFID and the Home Office are working to improve the support offered to victims of trafficking, promote alternative, aspirational livelihoods to potential victims of trafficking, and building the capacity of law enforcement to crack down on the crime.
Apart from the new enforcement support, £7 million of DFID support in Nigeria had earlier been announced in December 2017 to create job opportunities in sectors including hospitality and technology which could help up to 30,000 women at risk of modern slavery; and strengthen systems that support victims of trafficking, including through improving safe house support and training for counsellors in at least six safe houses.
The Home Office have provided £5 million of support which will build the capacity of Nigerian law enforcement to crack down on the crime, help investigate prolific traffickers, and provide protection.
U.K. Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said that:
“The UK is leading the world in tackling this form of abuse through the ground-breaking Modern Slavery Act 2015, which ensures victims are identified and supported and provides law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to bring perpetrators to justice.”