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|Friday, September 21, 2001, updated at 15:44(GMT+8)|
Hundreds of Trafficked Nigerians Die, Trying to Cross African Deserts, MediterraneanNigerian Foreign Minister Alhaji Sule Lamido Thursday said in the capital Abuja that several hundreds of Nigerians have died as victims of human trafficking while trying to cross the deserts of North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
"They died while making desperate attempts to cross those two great natural barriers from Africa to Europe in search of greener pastures," Lamido said while inaugurating a committee to organize an international conference on human trafficking, child abuse, child labor and slavery.
He said several hundred others had been deported from various countries in the recent past, adding that many of them found themselves in this situation through the activities of human traffickers.
"The magnitude of the number of Nigerians imprisoned, deported or killed in foreign land informed the decision of the Federal Executive Council (cabinet) to mandate my ministry to commence negotiations with our international friends with a view to bringing home our nationals, who are victims of human trafficking, " he said.
Lamido said last month his ministry coordinated the evacuation of about 33 trafficked Nigerians from Conakry, Guinea, where 18 persons identified as the traffickers had been arrested.
The Nigerian government has already taken preliminary steps to introduce a bill to the National Assembly against trafficking in women, girls and children for sexual and economic exploitation, he said.
Nigeria has already signed immigration agreements with Italy, Spain and Ireland with a view to bringing aid to trafficked Nigerians in those countries, he said.
Due to the high unemployment rate arising from economic recession, many Nigerians want to find good jobs overseas, so human trafficking has turn out to be a serious social problem in Africa's most populous country.
In Nigeria, women and children are the major victims of human trafficking. Women are trafficked for prostitution and large numbers of children are sold into bonded labor.
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