Not even the adverse weather conditions in Russia is enough deterrent for Nigerian human traffickers as no fewer than 200 Nigerian girls are trafficked every month to Russia for prostitution, says Nigeria’s ambassador to Russia, Asam Asam.
Asam, who spoke against the backdrop of consular challenges faced by the embassy, disclosed this in an interview with the Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Berlin.
An investigation revealed that the crime has declined in Western Europe following strict laws on illegal migration, and joint efforts by Nigeria and the governments of those countries to curb the menace.
However, attention has shifted to Eastern Europe as the new destination for the trade. In the last decade, Italy had seemed the capital of human trafficking, especially for young girls who were lured to the country by a mafia gang under the pretext that some house keeping or floor sales jobs had been arranged for them. But they ended up serving as prostitutes on the street of many European countries.
According to Asam, “The major consular challenge we face in Moscow is the influx of trafficked persons from Nigeria, not less than 200 girls are trafficked every month, and we have so many of them exposed to danger.
“Some are thrown out of the window and treated harshly, there must be a way of stopping these racketeering; these girls are not tourists, students or government officials, yet they are given visas from the Russian embassy in Abuja.
“So far we have deported over 240 girls since 2012. You will be shocked at the extent of resistance from the girls. We tell them Russia is not a destination for prostitutes, yet they still come.”
He said the mission tries to curb the menace by arranging deportation exercises for those caught, but the challenges are enormous.
According to NAN, the envoy said such interventions would be more effective at the point of entry, saying “the strategy is to stop them from Nigeria, and fish out those involved in the trade.”
“For instance a well-known Russian human trafficker who has been in the trade for about 20 years was caught in Nigeria. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) was on the verge of releasing her before I filed a protest from Moscow to the Comptroller General of Immigration,” Asam stressed.
He said even the parents of those trafficked encourage their children. “I spoke to the mother of one of the girls and she said her daughter should remain in Moscow and try to survive the ordeal, this is very sad indeed coming from one’s parent,” he said.
He tasked the media on sensitising the public on the dangers of trafficking in Russia, saying: “This East European nation has become a new destination for them, and believe me it is a very big crime here.”
Asam, however, said other Nigerians who reside in that country were students and professionals in various fields. Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) aside from NAPTIP have been involved in the crusade against human trafficking in Nigeria.