NAPTIP finds more than 20,000 kidnapped Nigerian girls in Mali

NAPTIP finds more than 20,000 kidnapped Nigerian girls in Mali

- NAPTIP has revealed that there are between 20,000 and 45,000 kidnapped Nigerian women in Mali

- The anti-trafficking agency said many of the women were sold as sex slaves

- Some of the women were said to have been tricked into going to Mali by giving them the impression they were going to get jobs while others were abducted while going to school

- The Nigerian government has been criticised for failing to tackle human trafficking

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has revealed that it has found thousands of missing girls and women in southern Mali, many of whom were sold as sex slaves.

According to NAPTIP, there are between 20,000 and 45,000 kidnapped Nigerian women in Mali it intends to return to Nigeria.

Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP boss, told Al Jazeera that the women mostly came from rural areas of six different states in Nigeria.

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“They were tricked into going to Mali by giving them the impression they were going to get jobs in hotels, for example. Some were actually abducted while going to school.

“There are over one million Nigerian residents in Mali, out of which about 20,000 are trapped into forced prostitution. The conditions are horrible. They are kept in the thick of the forest where they cannot escape and with the 'madames' watching over them," she said.

According to a 2018 report by the US State Department, human trafficking is a major problem in Nigeria.

Nigerian victims of human trafficking were found in about 40 different countries, the report stated, adding that, “80 percent of all female Nigerian migrants in Italy are or will become sex trafficking victims.”

The United Nations had criticised Nigeria for failing to tackle human trafficking after a human rights mission looked at efforts to stamp out the organised trade in people.

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Meanwhile, the Benin zonal command of NAPTIP recently revealed that it rescued no fewer than 52 victims of human trafficking in the third quarter of last year.

Nduka Nwanwenne, zonal commander of the agency comprising Edo and Delta, said that the rescue was made from July to September.

He also disclosed that within the period under review, 15 suspected human traffickers were arrested.

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