Uyo – On 4 August 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) handed over a refurbished National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking (NAPTIP) shelter in Uyo, Akwa – Ibom State, the shelter serves as a haven for male and female victims of trafficking.
This initiative is part of efforts to strengthen the National Referral Mechanism in Nigeria by providing resources to select shelters as there are limited shelter options for male victims of trafficking, (VoTs), who constitute approximately 31 percent of all VoTs identified by NAPTIP in 2017.
In 2019, IOM assessed 21 shelters, and of these, five were identified to receive material supplies and refurbishment works. Upon NAPTIP’s request, IOM supported three shelters in three zonal commands: in Edo, Enugu and Akwa - Ibom and two privately owned shelters in Lagos and Oyo state. So far, all these shelters have received equipment and supplies to strengthen their capacity to provide services in line with the minimum shelter standards.
The COVID 19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the livelihoods of many Nigerians. Entire communities will be faced with reconstructing themselves socially and economically to cope with the effects of the pandemic. The disruption to livelihoods coupled with financial challenges due to limited socio-economic opportunities and loss of household income exacerbates risks for already vulnerable populations and increases communal tensions. For migrant workers or VoTs, loss of work and poverty increased their risk of exploitation and re-victimization. There was a 58% increase of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) reported during the lockdown, with very few options for safe housing or temporary accommodation for VoTs and survivors of GBV.
“This refurbishment work has been done to ensure that this shelter can provide safe accommodation to more victims of trafficking,”. said Prestage Murima, IOM Nigeria Programme Development Coordinator.
In 2020 NAPTIP rescued 132 VoTs in Akwa-Ibom between the ages of 5-34, further showing the need to strengthen counter-trafficking and protection responses for victims of trafficking within the state. The repairs, painting, and plumbing works were finalized to ensure that identified victims of trafficking and GBV survivors could also utilize the accommodation spaces that were previously out of use.
The Director-General of NAPTIP, represented by Barrister Hassan Tahir, the Director Legal and prosecution, stated that the Uyo shelter had the highest occupancy of all their nine shelters in Nigeria, 700 VoTs have been accommodated in the shelter to date, with the timely and swift refurbishment , the shelter can accommodate more victims.
Since 2017, IOM Nigeria has provided support to 21,771 returnees, of which 2,302 are VoTs.
This initiative was made possible under the “Strengthening Direct Assistance to VoTs in Nigeria Through a Victim-Centered Approach funded by the UK Home Office.
For more information, please get in touch with Mariam Owoeye at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +09062421091, Email: [email protected]