The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said that approximately 80% of the 11,009 Nigerian women registered at landing points in Sicily, Italy last year will be forced into prostitution in Italy and other countries in Europe.
The number of women registered by IOM in Italy in 2016 almost doubled the 5,600 recorded in 2015. It said the number was 1,450 in 2014.
“We have seen a huge increase in the number of Nigerian women arriving last year. According to our indicators we believe the majority of Nigerian women who are arriving into Italy are victims of trafficking and are likely to end up exploited in Italy or other European countries. In Italy the numbers are too high to provide all of them them with the services they need,” said Carlotta Santarossa, a counter-trafficking project manager for the IOM.
According to the IOM, this increase shows that the total number of Nigerian migrants has risen in the past year. It said that 37,500 of the 180,000 migrants arriving in Italy by sea last year were Nigerians, the first time they have eclipsed Eritreans as the largest national group. IOM said 22,000 Nigerians arrived the European nation in 2015.
It said that 3,000 of the 37,000 persons were unaccompanied minors.
Alberto Mossino, Director of Piam Onlus, an anti-trafficking NGO working with Nigerian migrants, said that the increase is as a result of the power of organised trafficking gangs, joining forces with Libyan militias to control movement from North Africa.
“Before, migrants could arrive alone in Libya and make their way by boat to Europe. Now, it is too dangerous: there is civil war and it is only the Nigerian and Eritrean trafficking gangs who are able to transport large numbers of people through the country, where militias are controlling the borders and ports. These are not smuggling gangs, their intention is to exploit and profit from the migrants they are transporting along the way, and women are the most lucrative cargo,” Mossino said.
Mossino said existing anti-trafficking services were at gridlock, with the Italian government providing only 1,600 places for victims of trafficking at specialist shelters.
“If there are 11,000 women arriving in one year, there is simply no way of providing them with any help or security,” he said. “There is nothing we can do to help them.”
IOM had said, in 2016, that more than 70% of migrants from travelling from North Africa to Europe showed indication of human trafficking, organ trafficking, and exploitation along the way. The report added that 49% of the migrants said they were held in a location against their will.
Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesperson for the IOM in Italy had said: “Libya is a black hole at present, from a humanitarian point of view – all migrants arriving from Libya have faced violence and human rights violations.”
The documentary below reveals the struggles these ladies face in Italy, and how the number of women forced into prostitution has increased over the years.
Sources: The Guardian; IOM