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Nigerians victims of trafficking reveal to Stephanie Linus the horror they faced reaching Italy

Actress and Director Stephanie Linus has encouraged rescued victims of human trafficking in Italy to have a positive outlook towards life despite the dangerous and life-threatening journey they passed through. In partnership with the world-renowned international medical humanitarian organization “Doctors Without Borders” (MSF), she recently made a trip Italy to give support to rescued people and raise her voice against such human rights violations.

A major highlight of the trip was her meeting with the rescued victims where they opened up like never before about the circumstances that led them to embark upon the journey. There is a widespread notion in the public space that most of the people who embark upon such dangerous trips to Europe by sea via Libya are aware of the dangers the trip presents. However, when she had a chance to speak with the victims, and she got to understand that they were genuinely ignorant about what laid ahead of them.

“Many people out there think that those who embark on this trip know what they are getting into, but that’s not true,” Mrs. Linus explained. “Most of them had no idea that the trip was going to be this life-threatening. Through their eyes, I could see their innocence. Some of them thought they were going to board a plane to Italy but were surprised when they kept driving miles away into the desert.”

The victims further recounted the horrors that they experienced on the sea in boats that were either too small or unsuitable for riding on the ocean. “Many of them died on the sea,” Mrs. Linus recalled sadly from her chat with the victims. “The sick ones were sometimes thrown into the ocean. They went without food and water for days.

The victims also recounted gory details of rape, sexual abuse, physical assault, starvation and death. 

An increasing number of women, mainly from Nigeria, are being trafficked to Europe for sexual exploitation. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there has been an almost 600% increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by Sea since 2014. Many of these women were kidnapped against their will or lured with the promise of greener pastures. In 2017, the MSF’s search and rescue ship, Aquarius, rescued 15,078 people, of whom 86 percent were male, and 14 percent were female. More than six in 10 of the women rescued were single female travelers, and most of them were from Nigeria.

Her trip also included a visit to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office and was given a deeper insight into the operations of the organisation in Italy as well as a visit of the IOM Staff. She also had a press conference with members of the international media.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is one of the most impactful humanitarian organisation that rescues thousands of people who faced hazardous conditions trying to enter Europe through the sea yearly. According to Mrs. Linus, she could see that the rescued victims were adequately taken care of and had a new lease on life. 

Mrs Linus has been at the forefront of advocacy over sensitive issues that affect the rights of women and girls. She has done this through several channels such as her advocacy movie – DRY, her role as UNFPA Ambassador; her charity organisation Extended Hands Foundation and many more. 


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