From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Human Rights Platform, a human rights group based in Turkey, have raised concerns about the new unions of human trafficking operating between Nigeria and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
On Tuesday, NAPTIP spokeswoman Stella Nezan noted that human traffickers often promise young Nigerians a college education and job opportunities in the TRNC, and once the students arrive in the territory, they are locked up in private apartments and forced into prostitution.
She explained that the TRNC is a territory isolated from the world because it is not recognized as a sovereign state by any country except Turkey, and the country also struggles to implement the minimum standards in terms of human rights in many areas due to insufficient resources, capacity and commitment. with the international community, and the economy is based on two major sectors; tourism and education.
She added that the TRNC, with a population of about 326,000, currently has 22 operating universities. However, the education sector carries significant risks according to the latest cases related to human trafficking.
She said data from the Human Rights Platform hotline confirmed that Nigerians account for 70% of human trafficking cases, from November 2021 to date, and all are victims of sex trafficking.
“In March 2020, the TRNC criminalized human trafficking, but authorities are reluctant to investigate cases. There is absolutely no legal framework that protects and assists victims of human trafficking, and there is no shelter, so victims are often exploited for months without access to law enforcement. ‘order. Even in the rare cases where they are rescued, they find themselves without assistance or protection from the authorities,” she noted.
She said the Human Rights Platform is currently the only organization that provides legal assistance and support to victims, and trends show that victims who enter TRNC on student visas are deceived by agents who are used as a shield by traffickers, and most of the time, a Nigerian trafficker would approach victims in Nigeria, either in person or online, and convince them to come to TRNC.
NAPTIP has urged Nigerian students wishing to travel there to beware and ensure that they have the financial means to cover all their university fees and living expenses as the country is currently suffering from economic crises and the job opportunities for students are dire.
The Agency has, however, advised anyone in a situation of exploitation in the TRNC to contact it via its hotline at +905428620060.