Humanitarian actors said they have trained 75 protection actors from related government agencies, civil society organisations, and humanitarian organisations working in the Northeast to tackle trafficking in persons (TIP) in humanitarian crisis.
This was made known in a joint statement signed by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Heartland Alliance International (HAI) on Friday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the Protection Sector in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team co-led by UNHCR, IOM and HAI organised the workshop.
“Evidence shows that humanitarian crises, such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, and protracted unrest, disrupt state and community structures.
“Instability combined with an environment where people face material, social and economic losses enable human traffickers to thrive.
“Increasingly severe manifestations of trafficking witnessed in crises around the world have drawn calls for humanitarian actors to better incorporate anti-trafficking initiatives into protection efforts.’’
The statement noted that in spite of the evidence, prevention of trafficking in persons and protection of victims remained overlooked or not addressed comprehensively.
It said that it was due to a multitude of challenges faced by humanitarian workers to make an anti-trafficking response feasible and effective.
“Obstacles to prevention measures and protection are also due to the complexity surrounding human trafficking, as well as a lack of specialised knowledge and limited data on the prevalence of trafficking,’’ it explained.
It stated that to build stronger anti-trafficking responses in the North-east, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force in Borno was established in July 2019.
It said that th establishment was by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in cooperation with UNHCR, IOM and Heartland Alliance International.
It stated that the workshop served as an opportunity to bring together key stakeholders to consider ways to operationalise and accompany the establishment of anti-trafficking action into the Protection Sector.
The workshop has its theme as ‘Integrating Anti-Trafficking into Existing Protection Mechanisms’.
It aimed at providing an interactive opportunity to generate ideas, solutions and to consult protection practitioners on tools and guidance recently developed by the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team.
It quoted Alexander Kishara, UNHCR Head of Sub Office, as saying that “trafficking in persons, as a grave violation of human rights is a protection issue.
“In the context of North-east Nigeria, concerted actions must be taken by all involved to ensure integration in ongoing protection mechanisms.
“It is a collective responsibility.”
It also quoted Mr Dave Bercasio, IOM Nigeria Emergency Coordinator, as saying that “the complexity of human trafficking is compounded by the grim reality of displacement and other humanitarian needs in the North-east.
“This training is an effort to gather all the key players at the table, to generate ideas on how to integrate counter-trafficking work into our overall response.”
According to the statement, participants have explored ways to incorporate anti-trafficking initiatives into existing mechanisms, including steps to be taken to strengthen the identification of trafficking cases and provide a systematic response to assist victims.
Ms Patience Peret, a project coordinator from Heartland Alliance International, one of the training participants said the training had equipped participants with a broader understanding of trafficking in persons in humanitarian action.
“The tools developed and shared during the training will assist us with practical measures to address TIP (Trafficking in Persons) in our work as humanitarian workers,” she said.
Edited by Donald Ugwu