22 November 2007

Nigeria: Country Leads in Women Trafficking to Europe - Minister

Abuja — The Minister of Labour, Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal, said Tuesday that Nigeria has more cases of trafficking of women to Europe and Middle East than any other African country.

The minister, who disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the International Cooperation Workshop against Human Trafficking in Abuja, said most of the trafficked women are forced into prostitution.

He said reports indicate that about 35,000 women and children are trafficked from West and Central Africa every year for commercial sex exploitation.

Dr. Lawal also expressed concern that most anti-trafficking programmes focus on trafficking for sexual exploitation, saying that the campaigns are "too narrow in scope."

He said there was the need for the stakeholders to mobilise resources to be devoted to investigating other dimensions of human trafficking.

"This is so because the ILO report on forced labour indicates that out of every 2.5 million persons trafficked at any point in time, a minimum of one third is trafficked for economic purposes.

"ILO estimates further indicate that 80 percent of forced labour in the African region is for economic exploitation and only 8 percent for commercial sexual exploitation," he said.

He said the phenomenon of labour trafficking and its forced labour consequences constitute unfair labour practices, which the ministry is poised to address.

According to him, the ministry's migration desk is collaborating with the office of special assistant to President Umaru Musa Yar'adua on Migration to develop a national policy for effective management of migration in Nigeria.

Dr. Lawal said also that the ministry is currently issuing out licences to qualified private employment agencies in order to streamline and harmonise all recruitment activities within and outside Nigeria.

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