Oyo governor, Seyi Makinde, says indigenes of the state who are victims of human trafficking in Lebanon will be repatriated free of charge.
There have been recent reports about Nigerians, usually women, who are trafficked to Lebanon to work as maids for employers who dehumanise them.
In April 2020, Lebanese authorities arrested Wael Jerro, a Lebanese man who offered to sell a Nigerian woman for $1000 in a Facebook post.
A group of 30 women recently made a public plea to the Nigerian government to rescue them and fly them back home, alleging inhumane treatment by employers and authorities.
Makinde’s Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters, Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu, told him on Sunday, August 2 that there are 40 of such trafficked victims who have been confirmed to be Oyo indigenes.
She said they had been trafficked into apparent modern-day slavery in Lebanon and were suffering.
Makinde assured that the state government is willing to pay for the repatriation of all Oyo indigenes who are victims of trafficking in the Arab country.
“I understand that some well-meaning individuals and groups have made some donations to some of the victims, let them use such donations as pocket money.
“This state will pay for their flights and the fees requested to conduct COVID-19 tests on each of them,” he said.
Sarumi-Aliyu said the 40 victims that have already been screened are expected back in Nigeria on a special flight on August 12.
She said she’s working with Lebanese authorities to identify more indigenes of the state who are victims.
“Since the government found out that we have some victims of human trafficking, who are stranded in Lebanon, we have stepped in.
“On the 11th of July, we received 11 victims and they are going through rehabilitation with the social workers in the Ministry of Women Affairs.
“The state has given commitment that they will all be empowered,” she said.
After the video of the 30 Nigerian women stranded in Lebanon made the rounds on social media, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) said it’s working with Lebanese authorities to locate them and return them to Nigeria.
The anti-human trafficking organisation said more than 100 such victims of forced labour have been repatriated from Lebanon since May.