Combating human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Africa
Combating human trafficking and smuggling of migrants is primarily the responsibility of countries themselves. The Netherlands provides funds through UN agencies to help countries in North and West Africa to improve their legislation and strengthen their capacity to apprehend and prosecute human traffickers and people smugglers. We also promote cross-border cooperation in this area, and better protection of migrants’ human rights.
Helping migrants in distress in Niger
With Dutch support, IOM provides aid for migrants rescued in the Sahara. In the period from mid-2018 to mid-2019, the organization provided food, medical and psychosocial support and shelter to more than 2,800 migrants. These migrants may also receive assistance with the return to their countries of origin and rebuilding their lives there.
Awareness-raising on migration choices
Although migrants often realise that they are taking risks in relying on people smugglers when embarking on a journey, they do not always fully appreciate the consequences of their decision. Reliable information helps them understand these consequences better, and assess possible opportunities in their country of origin. They are then able to make better informed choices about migration or a future in their country of origin. This prevents unnecessary suffering and irregular migration.
Return and reintegration from transit countries
Through IOM, the Netherlands supports the voluntary return and reintegration of stranded migrants in North Africa. These migrants often live in inhumane conditions, for example in the detention centres in Libya. IOM offers them a safe return home and support in rebuilding their lives. In the period from mid-2018 to mid-2019, 2,716 stranded migrants from North Africa returned to their countries of origin, while more than 1,809 migrants received support with reintegration.
Large numbers of migrants end up stranded in the desert in the north of Niger. IOM rescues these people and provides them with aid and protection. In the period from mid-2018 to mid-2019, with Dutch support, IOM provided over 2,800 migrants with assistance. This aid can include water, food and medical and psychosocial assistance.
To combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, the Netherlands funds training of government officials and stakeholders. The training focuses on different parts of the process, from prevention to prosecution. In the period from mid-2018 to mid-2019, 182 officials and others in various countries in North and West Africa were trained with Dutch support.
We measured the effects of an awareness-raising campaign by the organization Seefar in Nigeria, Gambia and Iraq (Kurdish Region). The core of the campaign consisted of discussions between young people with plans to migrate and a confidential adviser. The indicator shows how many young people say that they will abandon, postpone or reconsider their plans after the discussion. This figure already far exceeds the objective.
This indicator shows how many migrants the Netherlands has supported in returning voluntarily to their countries of origin from transit countries outside Europe.
This indicator shows how many migrants have received assistance in rebuilding their lives in their countries of origin. This assistance can include help in finding a job, training or arranging childcare.
Progress in result area Migration cooperation
Good results were achieved in the period from mid-2018 to mid-2019. Thousands of migrants were helped to return voluntarily from North Africa to their countries of origin and rebuild their lives. Information improved the knowledge of 43,000 people on the risks of irregular migration, including the risk of falling victim to human trafficking, causing more than 10,000 people to change or reconsider their decisions. This prevented suffering and helped achieve safe, responsible migration (SDG 10.7).
As of yet, too little research has been carried out into the effects of awareness-raising campaigns. To learn more about this, IOM conducted a scientific evaluation of the Dutch-funded campaign Migrants as Messengers in West Africa. The evaluation assessed the impact of a film presenting the stories of migrants who had experience with irregular migration on young people with plans to migrate. The film was followed by a discussion. The evaluation concluded that these young people:
felt better informed of the risks (19% more than the control group) and were in fact more aware of the actual risks (25% more than the control group);
said less often that they planned to undertake irregular migration in the coming two years (20% less than the control group).
There are also challenges. The situation in various focus regions, like West Africa, is becoming more unstable. This makes the conditions we are working in more difficult. In addition, sustainable improvement take time. Tackling human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, for example, often requires changes to legislation and in police and justice procedures, combating corruption and creating new forms of partnership. This can be a long process in countries where protection of human rights and good governance cannot be taken for granted.
Progress has been made in the fight against human trafficking. Effective legislation is a basic precondition for combating human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. With Dutch support, West African countries are working on improving their legislation. This involves identifying shortcomings in existing legislation and drafting new legislation. In 2018, for example, Côte d'Ivoire adopted a special statute against human trafficking with support from the Netherlands. Côte d'Ivoire is the second country in the region with such specialised legislation. Another positive result made possible by the Netherlands is the secondment of Nigerian prosecutors to Italy and Spain. This strengthened and expedited the exchange of information, leading to 28 new cases of human trafficking being opened.