Crisis

Trafficking of Nigerian sex workers to Italy has increased amid migrant chaos, U.N. says

North African migrants fleeing Libya arrive at the port in the southern Sicily village of Porto Empedocle in 2011. MARCELLO PATERNOSTRO/AFP/Getty Images

As boats full of migrants departing Libya and arriving on Italy’s shores have increased this year among the refugee crisis, Italy’s sex trafficking ring that has long relied on Nigerian women to work as prostitutes has increased, according to the United Nations. More than 3,600 Nigerian women have been brought to Italy so far this year, about 80 percent of whom are expected to be trafficked into prostitution, a marked increase of the number of victims from previous years, the U.N. said.

“What we have seen this year is a crisis, it is absolutely unprecedented and is the most significant increase in the number of Nigerian women arriving in Italy for 10 years,” said Simona Moscarelli, anti-trafficking expert at the IOM.

Nigerian women are being recruited in their own country, promised jobs or passage to Europe, and arrive at migrant centers meant for those fleeing violence in Libya and Syria. The women are then whisked away by traffickers, the IOM said. The women are given a phone number when they leave Nigeria to use once they arrive in Italy to arrange a pick-up.

“Our indicators are the majority of these women are being deliberately brought in for sexual exploitation purposes. There has been a big enhancement of criminal gangs and trafficking networks engaging in the sexual exploitation of younger and younger Nigerian girls,” Moscarelli said.

The U.N. called for Italy to increase its anti-trafficking resources to deal with the growing problem.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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