Nigerien authorities and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have inaugurated the first reception center for victims of trafficking in Niger, located in the region of Zinder.
Ahead of World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, IOM and the National Agency for the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons (ANLTP) in Niger opened last week the first reception center for victims of trafficking in the country, located in the region of Zinder, IOM said in a statement.
In order to respond to the growing need to provide tailor-made assistance, the reception center was built as part of the project Enhancing Capacities to Fight Trafficking in Persons in Niger, implemented between February 2017 and January 2020.
Many Nigerians are victims of trafficking, exploitation
IOM said in the statement that Niger is a major migratory hub in west and central Africa with many vulnerable migrants travelling to the country, including victims of trafficking and potential victims.
Between 2016 and 2019, IOM assisted 326 trafficking victims, most of them minors (34%) coming from Nigeria (49%), Niger (24%), and Benin (14%). In addition, many Nigerien nationals fall prey to trafficking and exploitation, in Niger and abroad.
When deciding to migrate, many are deceived by smugglers about their final destination and the financial opportunities awaiting them. ''Once in the country of transit or destination, these migrants often end up victims of forced labor or sexual exploitation'', Eva Pons, IOM's Protection Officer in Niger, was quoted as saying in the statement. ''Migrants using irregular channels are more vulnerable to abuse during their journey and become easy prey for traffickers.''
Centers to identify and assist victims
Potential victims can be properly identified and adequately assisted at the centers with medical and psychosocial support, as well as with socio-economic, administrative and legal assistance. To further support their recovery, they will also benefit from individual support for reintegration in their countries or communities of origin as part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
The National Action Plan (NAP) of Niger has the objective of building three different reception centers for victims of trafficking in the regions of Zinder, Agadez and Niamey. After having equipped the shelter, IOM has now handed it over to the government, although it will continue to support it until January 2020.
''The reception center for victims of trafficking in Zinder is not only the first support center for victims in Niger, but also the first in francophone Africa,'' said the director general of the ANLTP, Gogé Mamouna Gazibo, during the launch, IOM reports. ''This center can exist today thanks to the will of state authorities and IOM, who supported our commitment to fight trafficking in persons from the very beginning.''