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Nigeria launches STEAP, anti-children trafficking project

Nigeria on Monday launched the School anti-trafficking Education and Advocacy Project STEAP for a safer, more secure future for Nigeria’s children and youth.

 

The project sponsored by the Kingdom of Netherlands, is localized in Edo, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Benue and Enugu states, and spearheaded by the ICMPD in partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP.

The Head, West Africa Region of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development ICMPD, Mojisola Sodeinde, at the Government Secondary School, Gwarinpa, said; “This initiative is not just a project, it is a powerful commitment to change, a testament to our collective will to fight against the scourge of human trafficking.

“In the shadows of our societies, a dire threat has been growing – the threat of human trafficking. It is a menace that knows no borders and spares no one, targeting the most vulnerable among us.

“The stark reality is that our children, the very future of our nations, are at risk. In 2021, the key findings of the Fifth Global Report on Trafficking in Persons indicated that children represent more than 75% of trafficking victims detected in West Africa.

“The statistics are alarming, but they are more than numbers. They represent lives, dreams, and futures stolen. This is a battle not just for justice, but for the soul of our communities.

“The STEAP project is our bold response to this challenge.

“Rooted in the understanding that awareness and education are powerful tools, STEAP aims to transform schools into fortresses of knowledge and empowerment against human trafficking.

“We are focusing on a ‘whole of school community’ approach, which involves students, teachers, parents, and the wider community. Our objective is clear: to significantly reduce the trafficking of school-aged children in Nigeria and beyond”.

According to her, the strategy encompasses several key areas, including integrating human trafficking awareness into the school curriculum as well as investing in training for teachers and school staff.

She said the project would also establish school clubs in high-risk areas to serve as safe spaces for students to engage, discuss, and learn about human trafficking.

“They will also be centres for peer education, where students can empower each other.

“Moreover, we recognize the critical role of the community. We are engaging parents and local groups, changing societal norms and attitudes that have allowed trafficking to thrive.

“We are building partnerships with civil society organizations, law enforcement, and government agencies to create a unified front against traffickers”, she added.

Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Wouter Plomp, who stressed the need for collective action against trafficking, said now is the time to develop a long-term preventive approach.

“The only way we can truly combat human trafficking is by working together. The government of the kingdom of Netherlands is keen to continue this partnership. We need to work on a long-term preventive approach. Prevention is key”, he stated.

A 2021 report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which found that children made up 75 percent of trafficking victims detected in West Africa.

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