Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nigeria: Porous Border Aids Human Trafficking

From allAfrica:

Nigeria's porous border with its northern neighbour Niger is being exploited by traffickers smuggling teenage girls to Europe where they will work as prostitutes, immigration officials told IRIN."Our 910 kilometre boundary with Niger is too much for us to police which provides human traffickers an advantage to conduct their trade of smuggling young girls to Europe for prostitution," Oemi Bio Ockiya, head of the Nigerian immigration department in Kano told IRIN.

Ockiya said girls are transported from the southern part of Nigeria to Kano from where they are driven to Libya through Niger and then shipped to Europe, their final destination, for prostitution.

The traffickers convince the girls and their parents that lucrative jobs await their victims, but force them into prostitution once in Europe by holding on to their passports.The trafficking of young women to Europe through Kano has been a common occurrence.

Hitherto the traffickers would smuggle their victims through Kano airport using fake and stolen passports.

However the introduction of state-of-the-art passport reading machines and a run of high-profile arrests meant the traffickers resorted to driving the victims overland to Niger then Libya from where they are shipped to Europe, Ockiya said.

Ahmed Bello, head of the federally-funded National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons [NAPTIP] in charge of 18 northern states said trafficking is also spreading HIV/AIDS."Our investigation shows that 40 percent of trafficked girls repatriated to Nigeria test positive to HIV and this has serious social and economic implications," he said.

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