Lagos, Nigeria 26 November 2019: Often referred to as the business of freedom, the aviation industry, believed to connect over four billion passengers on 20,000 city pairs annually presents huge social and economic benefits of expanding business frontiers, reuniting families and friends, and facilitating tourism and cultural exchanges. However, as a result of affordability and speed, the industry is fraught with the dangers of being exploited by criminals for illegal trafficking of men, women and children.

Air travel remains the primary modes of transportation utilized by human traffickers. According to  UNODC 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons , 20% of the 225 000 victims detected worldwide between 2003 and 2016 have been trafficked by plane. Airlines, their crew as well as passengers can play a key role as first line responders in detecting victims and their traffickers before departure and while on board of aircrafts before victims become difficult to trace in destination countries.

In the context of its ongoing project with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is supporting the agency in its efforts to engage airlines, airport management authorities, travel agencies and through them travelers at large in helping to detect and prevent the trafficking of persons.

Following series of consultation, advocacy visits and capacity building supports to key players in the aviation industry, UNODC, NAPTIP and the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) officially signed the handover of materials consisting electronic messages and billboards to inform the general public on human trafficking to FAAN for deployment to airports to sensitize travelers and airport users. Airline professionals have unique opportunities to interface with traffickers or victims before they reach their destination.

In her speech at the official handover, the Director General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli said "The challenges of human trafficking and irregular migration are quite enormous, and new initiatives must be developed to ensure sustained successes against these twin monsters. The fight against human trafficking requires the collaborative efforts of everyone especially those who operate at our airports and land boarders."

Expressing optimism that the partnership will achieve desired results, the NAPTIP DG added that "it is our hope that at the end of this handover, counter-trafficking messages will be conspicuous at our major airports, at the check-in and boarding areas, along the boarding gates and as part of the airlines inflight audio and visual communications. It is expected that FAAN will distribute to other airline operators for awareness."

In his remark, Mr. James Jewett, Country Director in Nigeria of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) assured that "Protecting Victims of Trafficking in Nigeria is a priority for the U.S. Embassy. A grant of over $400,000 was awarded to implement this very important project.", adding that "the handing over of these educational materials to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria is the first step in achieving our mutual goals."

The handover of the materials coincides with the commemoration of the 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the ongoing 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), from 25 November to 10 December under the theme, "Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!"

For further media inquiries please contact:

Sylvester Tunde ATERE
Outreach and Communications
UNODC Nigeria Country Office, Abuja
Mobile: +234 701 683 9158, +234 803 264 7975