The British High Commission in Nigeria has launched the second Phase of the Collaboration Against Trafficking and Smuggling at the Nigeria-Niger border programme (CATS NN).
The launching took place on Thursday 29 July, during a joint event hosted by the British High Commission with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
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The CATS programme was developed following the signing of the Sandhurst Treaty between the UK and France in 2018.
Under the Sandhurst Treaty, France and the UK committed to collaborating on regional border management capacity as well as on countering trafficking in people, modern slavery and Organised Immigration Crime.
The CATS programme is funded and managed by the Conflict Stability and Security Fund of the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.
Speaking at the event, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said the United Kingdom; “is a proud ally of Nigeria in its efforts to tackle human trafficking and supporting Nigerian victims and survivors through a variety of programmes that provides shelters, physical and mental health interventions and rehabilitation and integration.”
She said the CATS programme would help Nigerian and Nigerien migration services and anti-trafficking agencies tackle their shared challenges.
On his part, Franz Celestin, Chief of Mission for the IOM in Nigeria, said: “Trafficking in persons is still on the rise and counts as one of the top three most profitable illegal businesses worldwide.
“Driven by the demand for cheap labour and commercial sex, trafficking rings across borders and within countries take advantage of economic, social and political vulnerabilities to exploit their victims.
“As IOM, we welcome the UK Home Office’s Collaboration Against Trafficking and Smuggling Programme between Nigeria and Niger to enhance migration governance and an effective counter-trafficking response between the two countries.
Also, Barbara Rijks, Chief of Mission for the IOM in Niger, said Nigeria and Niger were both important countries along the Central Mediterranean Route, stretching from sub-Saharan Africa to the southern European coast.
While noting that the border remained one of the most perilous in the world today, she said IOM Niger welcomes the UK Government’s support to strengthen cross border collaboration between Niger and Nigeria.
The Nigeria-Niger border is, at around 1600km long, the single longest land border within ECOWAS and is challenging to control.
In 2013 the United Nations General Assembly declared the 30 July as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
This year’s theme, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way”, aims to amplify the voices of victims, putting their experiences and their perspectives at the centre of counter-trafficking responses and prevention efforts.