Survivors of Human Trafficking Share Experience with CLICE Foundation

Countering Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) sometimes requires working with survivors who are willing to share their stories to demystify the “greener pasture myth” . In September,  2021 Ms Chylian founder, Female Returnees Forum of Nigeria (FRFN)  and Mr. Jeremiah, a survivor, now CTIP Champion and founder of Voice of Migrant Association (VMA) shared their experiences with CLICE Foundation. Click to watch-

According to Ms. Chylian, human trafficking is born out of people taking advantage of other people’s situation to exploit them. She shared a backstory of how she had to drop out of school due to an inability to settle her school fees, how it became a struggle to pass entrance exams which would get her back into school and how she eventually ended up with a teaching job which yielded barely enough to cater for her needs and that of her family with her being the first child and having great responsibilities at a young age. She talked about how the opportunity to travel abroad was presented by a relative which at the time was considered a huge blessing. Going further to share all of the horrific experiences of travelling through the desert for over a month, exposed to all sorts of violence and almost lost her life on the way. The experience of being sold and re-sold at different points until they were eventually intercepted at the sea coast in Libya, held in detention for 3 months and through the intervention of the International Organization for Migration she was released and safely returned home to Nigeria. She added how it was seemingly impossible to seek for redress starting with the relative who had arranged for her travel, because trafficking is an organized crime and she feared for her safety and that of her family. This insight gave credence to economic challenges being a factor for falling victim to trafficking and to the fact that economic obligations in the family is not gender specific.

Mr Jeremiah on the other hand shared his opinion from the perspective of parental and peer influences. He described it as a culture in Edo state which is his state of origin, for families to want to have at least one member of the family living abroad by any means whatsoever. He added that his experience wasn’t born out of pressure but a desire to just travel abroad and grow his business. He was made to believe that with 300,000 naira, he could travel to Germany and run a more lucrative laundry business. He shared shocking experiences in the course of the journey which went as far as drinking each other’s urine just to quench their thirst while in the desert. They were also psychologically tormented with the threat that anyone who tries to escape would meet the fate of those whose blood they had seen spilled all over the fence.

He went on to talk about how they were intercepted while on the Mediterranean sea, sent into detention and only regained his freedom after spending 9 months in an underground prison through the efforts of the IOM.

Speaking on why people would still want to migrate illegally despite all the ordeals they must’ve heard of, Jeremiah’s opinion was that there is a mentality among Nigerians that one’s case would be different from the other. He also added the economic hardship and educational frustrations as other factors that continue to push people in search for greener pasture.

The survivors were asked to give their opinion on whether they would want to travel abroad albeit legally if the opportunity is given them. They were both of the opinion that though not desperate to travel abroad they are open minded towards travelling if there is an opportunity to better themselves.

As a parting message, Jeremiah advises that migration be done the right way. While Chylian advocated for caution as traffickers are everywhere and people should not be misled by their fake promises.

It was generally echoed that Nigeria is a beautiful country and opportunities abound to succeed in the country.

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