BAMAKO, Mali, March 1, 2019/ — Recent reports have revealed an alarming number of victims of trafficking among migrants present in Mali, mainly from West and Central Africa, particularly Nigerian women who are often sexually exploited in gold mining areas.
To better assist the most vulnerable, and effectively identify these trafficking victims as well as traffickers in Mali, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Government of Mali organized from 25 to 28 February 2019 a four-day training session in Bamako for more than two dozen future trainers.
Funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the workshop involved training law enforcement officers (border police, vice squad and national gendarmerie) operating at stations, airports and border posts and registering migrants.
Law enforcement officials are often the front-line officers that victims encounter when entering a country and it is essential to build their capacities to identify these people as early as possible and refer them to appropriate care facilities where necessary.
“Under this project, one of IOM’s priorities is to provide appropriate assistance to migrants in transit and particularly those in vulnerable situations stranded along the Central Mediterranean route,” said David Coomber, IOM’s Acting Chief of Mission in Mali.
The assistance provided is multifaceted and follows a referral mechanism involving the Malian Government and protection stakeholders who provide shelter assistance, hygiene kits (including clothing, shoes, mosquito nets, etc.), food assistance, and medical and psychosocial support.
Given its strategic position in West Africa, Mali is a transit country for thousands of migrants from the sub-region who wish to travel to North Africa or Europe. Data collected at the Flow Monitoring Points (FMP), from 1 July 2016 to 31 January 2019, revealed that more than 160,000 migrants (including 110,000 outbound migrants) were observed in Mali.
“This training has increased our knowledge of the legal framework for combating trafficking in persons, and has enhanced the screening of victims of trafficking, to provide them with the protection and assistance necessary to restore their human dignity,” said Tidiane Mallé, Chief of the Diboli Judicial Police. “We have also been able to learn how to identify the perpetrators of these crimes and are now endowed with greater capacities to prosecute them,” he added.
Participants with the best grades in the training’s final exams will provide advanced training on this topic to their colleagues in their respective regions (Kayes in the West, Gao in the North and Bamako district in the South of the country).
To ensure that protection and assistance is provided to migrants in transit who are more at risk of trafficking along the Central Mediterranean route, DFID, together with IOM and the Government of Mali, launched the two-year “Safety, Support, and Solution” programme in Mali and in several countries in West and Central Africa.