…As NAPTIP vows to tackle illegal recruitment of Nigerians abroad, for sexual exploitation***
A humanitarian official on Thursday said, Tunisia’s navy has recovered 38 additional bodies from a migrant boat that sank off the Tunisian coast, bringing to 58, the number of bodies so far retrieved, from the incident.
A boat carrying 86 migrants sank off the coast of Tunisia’s Southern town of Zarzis on Wednesday.
Mongi Slim, the head of the Tunisian Red Crescent branch in the Southern province of Medenine noted that four persons were rescued at the time, although one died later in hospital. Some 82 were still missing.
“The death toll is likely to rise as search operations continue,” Slim told dpa.
It could be recalled that the boat had set sail on Monday from Libya on a Europe-bound journey.
The Tunisian coast has become a common launch point for thousands of migrants, including Tunisians, who are seeking to reach Europe.
In May, at least 70 migrants died after their boat sank off the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax.
In the meantime, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) has vowed to tackle illegal recruitment of unsuspecting Nigerians for sexual and labour exploitation in foreign countries.
Mrs Stella Nezan, the Head, Press and Public Relations unit of the agency indicated this on Thursday in Abuja, in a statement, stressing that this was a resolution reached at the first inaugural meeting of the Board of the agency, presided over by the Chairman, Mr Abubakar Gotomo.
According to her, the board also promised to interface with the leadership of recruitment agencies in Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Labour and other relevant agencies to stem human trafficking.
She added that “the move was also to curtail the disturbing phenomenon which brought pains and agonies to many trafficked victims.”
She said that the board chairman expressed sadness over the activities of self-acclaimed licensed recruitment agencies who continued to ship innocent Nigerians abroad for exploitative purposes.
She quoted him as saying “I want to express the sadness of the entire board over this dangerous and disturbing development where our promising youths both boys and girls are being massively recruited for exploitative purposes.
“Reports emanating from these destination countries are heartbreaking and we cannot fold our hands while our children are daily being destroyed.
“Activities of these labour agencies are inimical to development of the nation, it is a setback to the fight against human trafficking and it just has to stop.”
Gotomo therefore commended NAPTIP Director General, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, “for the modest achievements in the agency since she resumed, especially in the areas of prosecution, awareness creation and advocacy.”
According to him, the NAPTIP boss, who presented an overview of activities of the agency earlier to the board, emphasised major challenges facing the agency.
He said that Okah-Donli told the board that activities of some of the labour recruitment agencies were frustrating the fight against human trafficking in the country.
He quoted her as saying “activities of some labour recruiters are frustrating Federal Government’s fight against exploitation of our citizens.
“On daily basis, the agency is being inundated with series of calls from distressed Nigerians in destination countries calling for help. They are being mindlessly exploited, harassed and even some of them killed by their so-called masters.
“They refer to them as their slaves and as such they can do anything to them without any mercy. Just some hours ago, there is a new advert on the various social media platforms calling on Nigerians to apply for driving jobs in one of the Middle East countries.
“They said advert promised a lot of unrealistic free offers that are totally false. This is another dimension in the exploitative trend that is designed to massively convey the applicants for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and even organ harvesting purposes.”
Okah-Donli also said that there was need to stop development of these agencies that were touting unverified recruitment licenses and call them to order.