The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) and the Turkish Human Rights Platform have raised concerns on the new human trafficking syndicates operating between Nigeria and Northern Cyprus.
This was made known in a statement released by Stella Nezan, NAPTIP’s head of press and public relations unit, on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the traffickers promise young Nigerians university education and work opportunities in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (as it is officially called) as a bait to lure them into prostitution.
“However, once the students arrive at the territory, they are locked up in private apartments and forced into prostitution,” the statement read.
“According to the hotline data of the Human Rights Platform, Nigerians form 70% of the human trafficking cases from November 2021 to date, and all are victims of sex trafficking.”
The Human Rights Platform on its part disclosed that despite criminalising human trafficking in March 2020, the authorities of Northern Cyprus were reluctant to investigate such cases.
“There is absolutely no legal framework that protects and assists human trafficking victims and there is no shelter. Hence, victims are often exploited for months with no access to law enforcement,” the statement further read.
“Even in rare cases, they are rescued, they are left with no assistance and protection from the authorities.”
Investigations revealed that most of the Nigerians who go to Northern Cyprus with student visas are deceived by agents of traffickers.
“Most times, a Nigerian trafficker would approach the victims in Nigeria either face to face or online and convince them to travel to the Northern Cyprus,” the statement read.
“Students should make sure that they have the financial means to cover all their university fees and living expenses, since the country is currently suffering from economic crises and job opportunities for students are dire.”
The rights group also advised people who find themselves in an exploitative situation in Northern Cyprus to reach out to them through +905428620060.
“The student visa regulations are not stringent compared to other countries. As such, students can receive visas mostly with just a proof of university registration,” NAPTIP said.
“It has been understood that the human traffickers have been abusing this procedure and contacting Nigerians, especially young women, to deceive them into going to Northern Cyprus.”
NAPTIP called on Nigerians being approached to travel to Northern Cyprus for university education to exercise extreme caution as most of such offers are from human traffickers who are capitalising on the loose visa procedures to traffic people into the country.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.