November 7, 2017
Benin City, Nigeria… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ and the Edo Women Development Initiative, EWDI, have expressed deep sadness and grief over the deaths of 26 Nigerian girls on the Mediterranean and therefore has called on the National Assembly to as a matter of urgent national importance to constitute a strong panel to investigate the deaths of the girls.
Making a statement to the media, ANEEJ executive director, the Rev. David Ugolor and EWDI trustee, Dr Rosaline Okosun noted that the unfortunate deaths of the girls aboard a Spanish warship, Cantabria, came at a time when the International Office of Migration in Nigeria had said it had concluded plans to use a soap opera, The Missing Steps, to highlight the risks of using irregular migration routes and exploring possible alternatives.
‘In addition to the sadness we feel at the needless deaths of these children, we call on the authorities to do something about the conditions which would drive girls as young as 14 to the deserts away from the comfort of their homes to take their destinies in their hands but only to perish in the desert and the Mediterranean’, Dr Okosun said in a statement.
Not less than 10,000 Nigerians mostly young girls have died between January and May 2017 while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts. And over the years, issues relating to human trafficking, child labour, human rights abuses, have continued to earn Nigeria a bad reputation before the international community. While forced migration occurs in conflict-prone places like Syria and Iraq, social inequality and cultural practices and belief systems have been exploited in Nigeria and Edo state in particular to drive young girls and women out to eke a living on behalf of the nuclear and extended family.
‘We call on everyone, and especially the Nigerian government to pay attention to and adopt several of the recommendations highlighted in a 2015 IOM report, Addressing Human Trafficking And Exploitation In Times Of Crisis Briefing Document Evidence And Recommendations For Further Action To Protect Vulnerable And Mobile Populations, and which includes the deliberate targeting of at-risk populations, with sustained awareness and educational campaigns on human trafficking. Government should increase its effort to curb illegal migration by partnering with international migration and human rights organizations to protect the rights of migrants and curb illegal migration’, ANEEJ executive director, the Rev Ugolor said.
ABOUT ANEEJ: To contribute to the emergence of a just and equitable African society through socio-economic and environmental rights protection, institutional strengthening and people’s empowerment.
About EWDI: To positively address societal issues relating to women, with special attention to the girl child in Edo State, and in Nigeria generally, impacting meaningfully on their welfare and general wellbeing, and aiding the sustainable development of Nigeria.