23rd November, 2017
It was a very lucky day for a 16-year-old Nigerian girl and her family members as she got rescued from a human trafficking ring by the Interpol.
The lucky girl was among about 500 persons that were rescued by the Interpol after police raids in West and Central African zones. Forty suspects connected with human trafficking are consequently facing prosecution right now.
The raids carried out in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal were as a result of a German foreign ministry funded initiative targeting organised crime in the region.
Of the nearly 500 people rescued, 236 were children, Interpol stated. The operation happened between the 6th and 10th November this year.
The arrested persons are accused of forcing their victims into begging and prostitution and face charges including human trafficking, forced labour and child exploitation.
The rescued 16-year-old Nigerian girl was deceived into thinking she would be working in Mali but was instead made to go into s*x work to pay back her travel costs to a “sponsor”.
According to Police inspector Yoro Traore, from Interpol in Mali’s capital, Bamako, the operation — code-named Epervier or Sparrowhawk — had been very effective and result-oriented. He went on to say further that “This operation has opened a number of ongoing investigations to further disrupt the crime networks involved in trafficking human beings.”
Focus in recent years has largely been on the West Africans trying to reach Europe via the treacherous route on the Mediterranean Sea with most of them identified as undocumented migrants seeking to flee poverty. But the same factors have resulted in more migration between countries in west and central Africa.
Organised crime groups have been discovered to be taking advantage of the desperation of victims to earn a living for themselves, coupled with the porous borders and ease of travel between members states of the regional bloc ECOWAS.