Distinguished Partners, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of CLEEN Foundation to welcome you all to this Townhall Meeting to raise awareness on Human Trafficking and seek possible solutions in mitigating such trends in Edo State. We thank you for your presence and taking the time to be here with us within your tight schedule and short notice.

CLEEN Foundation on the 25th of June, 2020 launched the “Preventing forced migration and trafficking of women and girls in Nigeria: Build resilience, promote sustainable development” project in response to the worrisome rates of trafficking of women and girls and the harsh realities they face especially during and at the destination countries. The Project is supported by the UN Women and is essentially aimed at identifying a range of gaps, challenges, and priorities for future policy and programming towards increasing gender-sensitive information and awareness-raising in Nigeria on trafficking and migration working closely with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). The Project’s focal states are Edo and Lagos states which both record the highest rates of these crimes respectively, in Nigeria. Since inception, the project has been engaging actively with relevant stakeholders including CSOs, law enforcement agencies including NAPTIP, NPF, NIS to foster more gender responsive law enforcement interventions and policy responsive frameworks.

The primary objective of this project is to enable a gender-sensitive policy environment that addresses forced migration and trafficking and increase gender-sensitive information and awareness-raising in source migration trafficking sites. The project also 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. Thus far, the intervention has progressed to the level of a Gender audit exercise on protection services within existing trafficking shelters and safe homes and other front-line services and providers.

The crime of trafficking in persons (TiP) is clandestine and complex. It is a modern-day form of slavery. Human trafficking in persons is a serious crime with negative long-term effects on the victims and the society at large, particularly its disproportionate effect on women and girls. It remains a crime that feeds and is a possible source of other serious criminal activities. Women and children are the key target groups because of their unequal socio-economic status and the lack of awareness of their legal rights. It is estimated that 85% of Nigerian sex-workers in Europe originated or migrated from Edo State. The IOM (2018) puts the figure at over 60%. In Edo State, Orhionmwon, Oredo and Ikpoba Okha Local government areas constitute some of the main recruiting centers for traffickers, while also being the main areas of departure of irregular migrants seeking to reach Europe. Nigeria has, in the last two years, evacuated thousands of its citizens from Libya and Lebanon after they suffered several forms of abuses, including enslavement. Trafficking has resulted in at least 80,000 Nigerian women being held as sex slaves and forced labour in the Middle East.

This Townhall Meeting scheduled for today 13th of January, 2021 is to promote an understanding of critical trafficking issues and a Community Led Approach in the prevention of human trafficking and forced migration in Nigeria. We thank the United Nations Women for supporting the implementation of the project and thank our Partners for their unflinching commitments thus far in the intervention, while wishing all a fruitful deliberation.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Benson Olugbuo, Ph.D.
Executive Director
CLEEN Foundation.

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