2016 unSEEN Peek™ – Two female Nigerian refugees embrace and weep inside the Surman Detention Centre, a Libyan facility that indefinitely detains hundreds of girls and women. Many of the detainees are irregular migrants aiming to enter Europe.

Despite the high and known risks of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and contemporary enslavement inherent to the world’s deadliest migration route, the International Organization for Migration (IMO) recorded that the number of Nigerian women travelling by boat from Libya to Italy across the Central Mediterranean rose from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016. 80% of the 11,009 Nigerian registered women who arrived in Sicily were victims of human trafficking bound for a life of forced prostitution in Italy and other European countries.

The majority of Sex Trafficking Victims are female and their age is becoming progressively younger with the majority aged between 13 and 24 years of age.

85% of Nigerian sex trafficking victims originate in Edo State, in the South-South region of the country, with Delta, Lagos, Ogun, Anambra and Imo also highly cited as states of origin by Nigerians the IMO has engaged with.

Sex Trafficking has become a lucrative growth industry. A 2017 London International Development Centre report claims that Nigerian females make up 90% of the sex workers in Italy. Sex Trafficking from Nigeria to Italy is primarily an enterprise operated by Nigerian ‘Madams’ who were themselves once victims of this diabolical trade in human flesh and misery.

Amen gb’ ukpafen, iba gha ghogho. Oma ren ghee ogha se ‘gbe ogiomwan ede ovbehe.

  You should not laugh at the fallen; when slippery ground lies ahead of you.

~ Edo Proverb

A Disquieting Intimacy
Nigerian Trafficked into Italian Sex Trade © Paolo Patrizi

IT HAS BEEN A WHILE since my last Blog post!

2019 has been a very intense year in which I have immersed myself in a cause that has organically become my Vocation.

Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2019, a day annually set aside by United Nations member states to:

“raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

Today is befitting to briefly share some details with you of the


that AFRICA: Seen & Heard (ASH) innovated in the Autumn of 2018 and has since holistically developed into a movement supported by a number of key global institutions from the Church, State, Charitable and Commercial sectors.

I strongly believe that Africans within both the Continent and across the global Diaspora must be pro-active and lead-taking in raising awareness of the risks of Irregular Migration if we are to effectively prevent those who risk their liberty in pursuit of prosperity from becoming victims of Human Trafficking, Forced Labour and Modern Slavery.

Cold Story
Morgue in Sabha City in Libya holding Irregular Migrants © Narciso Contreras for Fondation Carmignac


In the West, Contemporary Enslavement is more commonly addressed as “Modern Slavery”.

It is a pressing global issue that includes the crimes of Human Trafficking, Forced Labour Slavery and Slavery like practises including Domestic and Economic Servitude, Debt, Descent-Based or Ritual Bondage and Forced or Servile Marriage.

The International Labour Organization estimates that 40.3 million people are trapped in Contemporary Enslavement. 10 million are children, 9.1 million are enslaved throughout Africa and 4.8 million people are forced into sexual exploitation.

I consciously chose to reframe and rebrand the issues of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery as CONTEMPORARY ENSLAVEMENT as I believe that it is important for pan-African organisations to take the lead and recraft the global narrative on Trafficking and Modern Slavery.

“We must ensure that humanity is given to the enslaved who are free people trapped in an atrocious condition and inhumane institution.”

Eradicating the terms “Slave” and Slavery from the Contemporary Enslavement Narrative also brings honour and respect to Africans who were victims of past cycles of global enslavement particularly the Trans-Saharan and Trans-Atlantic Enslavement Trades.

The term and stance of Contemporary Enslavement” ensures that those enslaved in modern times are not objectified and can when freed live without unnecessary social stigmas.

“The CEPs vision is committed to assuring optimal rehabilitation and reintegration into home societies, as research has identified many hurdles and disadvantages for the majority of repatriated victims.”

In a report published yesterday, Ms Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, pronounced that:

“An empowerment process for survivors of trafficking requires a transformative project based on education and training, opening new paths to help them acquire new skills and equipping them for job opportunities. In particular for women, such a process should not be shaped on traditional gender-based activities, but should rather explore innovative solutions in non-traditional areas of education and employment.

The path to regaining physical and psychological integrity, self-esteem and independence for people who have been subjected to serious human rights violations is long. However, I believe that effectively including survivors in society and valuing their potential, skills and expertise can give them an opportunity to rebuild and change their lives, prevent re-trafficking and actively contribute to the dismantling of criminal networks.”

As a key driver of Irregular Migration is economic uncertainty, the CEP has a focus on building innovative models that empower survivors and those at risk of Irregular Migration and Contemporary Enslavement via:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Industrial Development

We are currently working on these three areas with key stakeholders in support of:

  • Primary Education
  • Return and Reintegration of Repatriated Persons 
  • Agricultural Development in Communities at Risk

across three states within Nigeria.

Rehabilitating the formerly enslaved back into their home societies creates opportunities to reactivate dormant African industries, improve capacity in those already existing, boost industrial innovation, specialised education and sustainable employment opportunities.


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The Contemporary Enslavement Programme contributes to an overdue and pressing international conversation and humanitarian crisis.

It was primarily developed to highlight the implications of Forced Labour, Irregular Migration, Trafficking and Enslavement to Nigeria and Africa Union member state’s development. As well as to raise awareness amongst citizens of the associate dangers and organised criminal networks.

Further CEP research identified that within the global diaspora, African-descent communities are also struggling with region-specific human trafficking and enslavement issues including the sexual trafficking of African-American women and youth both male and female.

In the United States of America, the FBI has reported:

  • 52% of all juvenile prostitution arrests are African-American children
  • Over 91% of the girls that are child sex trafficking victims, are African American or Latina
  • 50-90% of child sex trafficking victims in the USA have been involved in the child welfare system

In the United Kingdom, there is a child labour exploitation crisis which the National Crime Agency is tackling using modern enslavement legislation.

Organised ‘county lines’ drug gangs and criminal networks are entrenched across the country; an estimated 4,000 London teenagers are currently trapped in child criminal exploitation.

Our core team, collaborators and primary partners are all architects of existing and future social and economic pathways to Education and Employment Opportunities and Social and Economic Prosperity.

"Tutudesk provides the answer to the classroom desk shortage crisis experienced in schools in developing countries."
Functional literacy – the ability to read and write – is almost impossible to achieve without a dedicated writing surface – a school desk. Over 95 million children in schools across sub-Saharan Africa have no access to a classroom desk and the prospect of compromised literacy development. © Tutudesk UK

We share a consciousness and commitment to social and economic alleviation of Poverty and Contemporary Enslavement and a “Prevention is better than Cure” approach to the issues we tackle.

Commitment to safeguarding the wellbeing and developing the economic potential of programme beneficiaries is paramount.

Construction and delivery of frameworks and initiatives that reduce the need for irregular migration via delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals is also at the centre of CEP, particularly via:

  • Quality Education
  • Decent Work
  • Economic Growth
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


In the present day, the issue of Migration has unfortunately become entwined with that of Enslavement.

African people seeking refuge from failing states, civil unrest and unstable economies often find themselves trafficked across nations and borders.

Human Trafficking is the third largest global crime industry after Drug and Arms Trafficking with annual revenues estimated at $32billion.

International organised criminal networks use force, coercion, deception and abuse of vulnerability to trap undocumented migrants in order to harvest and sell their organs and body tissues or exploit their labour in various trades ranging from Agricultural to Prostitution in Europe, North America, the Middle East and beyond.

Unexpected migratory routes are also emerging, – with distressing video footage going viral – many Africans are now attempting to enter North America via South and Central America.

Irregular Migrants cross the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil by airplane or ship from a variety of African nations including Ghana, Ivory Coast and DRC.

A long, arduous and for many, fatal journey is lead by South American traffickers by bus, car and on foot through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala prior to arrival in Mexico which has border access to the United States.

For a determined few, Canada is the ultimate destination.

African Migrants Face Off in Tapachula, Mexico
In April 2019, African and Cuban migrants staged a riot to prevent authorities from carrying out deportations at an immigration centre in Tapachula, Mexico © MFA Media Group

The influx of trafficked Africans, undocumented migrants often bound for lives of forced labour and social disadvantage has become a major international issue as Western economies contract.

Pressure on South American resources is also increasing as the alternative route to the West gains more attraction.

Migration, both regular and irregular is increasingly politicised by rising nationalist right-wing factions and parties and is often negatively publicised by the media.

The CEP offers a platform for governments, agencies, organisations and individuals working to dismantle the frameworks of Irregular Migration and Contemporary Enslavement an opportunity to:

  • ADDRESS the economic, social and political reasons Africans seek to flee their countries.
  • ESTABLISH key economic pilot projects and industrial solutions between stakeholders and communities in need.
  • REINTEGRATE formerly enslaved persons to their home nations via well-being, education, employment and international trade frameworks.
  • ENGAGE communities at risk of Contemporary Enslavement in social, educational and economic projects that transform their lives and prosperity.


Human Trafficking Victor, 2013
Woman voluntarily returned to Benin City and assisted in small scale business via Danish Institute for International Studies doctoral project © Janus Metz. CEP aims to assist and develop Voluntary Return Programmes with governments, traditional kingdoms and key stakeholders that provide sustainable future for participants and long-term prosperity pathways for those at risk as well as returned from Human Trafficking.




Winifred Adeyemi


Contemporary Enslavement Programme Director


The Enslavement of Irregular Migrants in Libya

Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die


Displacement Map
The dynamics of displacement within sub-Saharan Africa © The Legatum Institute

provides the CEP with the data we need to form an accurate appraisal of the motivations behind these extraordinary journeys, and the risks faced by those undertaking them:

THE SANTA MARTA GROUP is an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The Holy Father describes Trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society”:

1st African Regional Conference of The Santa Marta Group © Santa Marta Group

The first AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE SANTA MARTA GROUP was held in Abuja, Nigeria from November 14 – November 15, 2018.

The conference was co-directed by Rev. Fr. Mark Odion, Africa Project coordinator of the Santa Marta Group and Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, National Director, Caritas Nigeria, facilitated by Onyinye Chime.

Download the report here:

Paul Stanfield, INTERPOL Director of Organised and Emerging Crime, on Operation Epervier II

What Fuels Trafficking
Three factors fuelling Human Trafficking © 2019 U.S. Fund for UNICEF d/b/a UNICEF USA

The CEP supports Desmond Tutu’s TUTUDESK CAMPAIGN which aims to provide 20 million Tutudesks to 20 million children by 2025.

It is vital that we lessen vulnerabilities for children around the world which might put them at risk of exploitation, trafficking and life-long poverty. HELP DONATE DESKS:

Childcare workers on the Italian island of Sicily say many African children rescued in the Mediterranean are almost certain to have been trafficked into prostitution:

Pope Francis greeting trafficked woman
The Holy Father meeting participants in conference on Human Trafficking (11 April 2019) © Vatican Media

“On one of the Fridays of Mercy, during the Extraordinary Holy Year, when I entered the House of the Pope John XXIII Community, I did not think I would meet inside there such humiliated, afflicted and exhausted women — really crucified women. In the room, where I met with girls liberated from the trafficking of forced prostitution, I breathed all the pain, the injustice and the effect of oppression — an opportunity to relive Christ’s wounds. After listening to the moving and very human stories of these poor women, some of them with their child in their arms, I felt a strong desire, almost the necessity to ask forgiveness for the real tortures they had to endure caused by the clients, many of whom describe themselves as Christians — a further impulse to pray for the reception of the victims of trafficking of forced prostitution and violence.

A person can never be put on sale. Therefore, I am happy to be able to make known the precious and courageous work of rescue and rehabilitation, which Father Aldo Buonaiuto has been doing for many years, following Oreste Benzi’s charism. This also implies the will to expose oneself to the dangers and reprisals of the crime, which has made of these girls an inexhaustible source of illicit and shameful earnings.

I would like this book to be heard in the widest ambit possible so that, knowing the stories that exist behind the scandalous numbers of trafficking, it can be understood that without stopping the very high demand of clients, the exploitation and humiliation of innocent lives will not be able to be checked.

Corruption is an illness that doesn’t stop on its own. There must be awareness at the individual and collective level, also as Church, to really help these unfortunate sisters of ours and to impede the world’s iniquity falling on the most fragile and vulnerable creatures. Any form of prostitution is a reduction to slavery, a criminal act, a repugnant vice that confuses making love with venting one’s instincts by torturing a defenseless woman.

It is a wound to the collective conscience, a deviation from the current imaginary. The mentality is pathological by which a woman must be exploited as if she were merchandise to be used and then discarded. It is an illness of humanity, an erroneous way of thinking of society. To free these poor slaves is a gesture of mercy and a duty for all men of goodwill. Their cry of pain cannot leave individuals or institutions indifferent. No one must look the other way or wash his hands of the innocent blood that is shed in the roads of the world.”

The Holy Father Pope Francis, excerpt from his preface of the book “Crucified Women: The Shame of Trafficking Told from the Street” (Rubbettino), by Father Aldo Buonaiuto, priest of the Pope John XXIII Community, published 29th July 2019.

Nigeria Sex, Lies and Black Magic

Oba of Benin Curses Human Traffickers

Sex Trafficking of African migrants in Europe is a ‘modern plague’


Life in Nigeria after selling sex in Europe:

Nigerian philanthropist Senator Florence Ita-Giwa discusses her NGO, Human Trafficking and Nigerian Politics  

“I survived human trafficking in Johannesburg.”

Organ Trafficking is increasingly going hand-in-hand with Human Trafficking:

African migrants denounce conditions at Mexico border with USA:

The Canadian Dream: The Migrant Road to Canada – Enquête


The Global Slavery Index is a global study of contemporary enslavement published by the Minderoo Foundation’s Walk Free initiative:

© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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