British Prime Minister Theresa May will announce measures on Wednesday in Nigeria which will aim to cut illegal migration into Europe from West Africa, and to help victims of modern slavery – a cause she has long focused on.
In 2017 Mrs May launched the Call to Action to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking in a speech at the United Nations, with almost 70 nations – including Nigeria – endorsing it.
It is the fifth-largest country of origin for victims of modern slavery in the UK, and the new British initiative will focus on helping victims of the trade rebuild their lives in their home nation. There will be funding to help Nigeria and its neighbour Niger stop trafficking across their border, with a UK-funded task force that will be based at Lagos Airport
Mrs May will announce that more than 1,700 migrants and modern slavery victims who are being returned to Nigeria from Libya will receive support, including counselling to deal with their ordeals and training in business and vocational skills to help them get jobs and reintegrate into their communities.
There will also be the creation of joint UK-French operation to help Nigeria and Niger strengthen co-operation on policing their border to prevent trafficking along one of the main migration routes towards Libya and Europe.
Mrs May will say that “modern slavery is one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time and the UK is a world leader in making it an international mission to end this heinous crime.
“Today we are stepping up our partnership with Nigerian authorities to find traffickers and bring them to justice. And because this is an international problem which needs international response, we are also launching a new project with France to strengthen border co-operation to prevent trafficking along key migration routes towards Libya and Europe.”
In addition to targeting organised crime, people smugglers and traffickers who “exploit people for financial gain”, Mrs May will reinforce how “vital [it is] that we support the victims who have suffered enormous trauma and are at high risk of being re-trafficked. That is an important part of the support we are announcing today.”