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Cablegate: Nigeria: Regional Tip Conference a Success

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: Embassy Abuja hosted a Trafficking in Persons
(TIP) Conference which brought together representatives
from nine USG missions in West and Central Africa and four
funding agencies/bureaus in Washington to forge an anti-
trafficking strategy for the region and coordinate future
programs with other donors and international organizations.

2. Representatives from U.S. Embassies in Togo, Benin,
Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea and
Nigeria joined Washington-based officials from DRL, INL,
Department of Labor (DOL) and USAID for a two-day regional
conference on Trafficking in Persons, hosted by Embassy
Abuja and Consulate Lagos December 4-5. This conference
had been scheduled for October but was postponed after the
attacks of September 11. A representative of the U.S.
Mission in Cameroon was invited but at the last minute
could not attend.

3. The first day of the conference, held at Consulate
Lagos, involved only USG participants, allowing the sharing
of information on trafficking profiles in the individual
countries and trends in the region. Participants also
learned of existing USG-funded programs that target TIP,
including DOL's impressive $4.3 million nine-country
regional program to fight child-trafficking through the
ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child
Labor. A representative from USAID/Washington's Office of
Women in Development offered a briefing on USAID's
Sustainable Tree Crop Program, an effort started with
exclusively environmental goals but which has recently
taken up the task of assessing the extent and underlying
factors of child trafficking to the cocoa farms of Cote
d'Ivoire. Washington-based participants briefed the group
on various Washington-based sources of funding for
potential anti-TIP projects, including INL, ESF, DHRF, DOL
and USAID DA monies.

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4. During the first's day working session the USG
representatives reviewed and added to a draft strategy
produced by the Africa Bureau's Regional Affairs Office.
After developing an over-arching goal for the strategy, the
group identified priority areas for USG anti-TIP programs,
drafted several short and long-term objectives to be
achieved under the three general categories of the USG's
International Anti-TIP Policy - Protection, Prosecution and

5. The group also produced a list of tactical tools with
which to advance these objectives, namely: greater
diplomatic advocacy, both public and private, of TIP-
related issues; engagement of ECOWAS and other regional
organizations; collaboration with other donors to fund
programs of international organizations such as UNICEF, IOM
and ILO-IPEC that are already active in this field in West
and Central Africa; and improved intra-USG coordination of
resources and programs aimed at the TIP problem in the West
and Central African region. (Note: The revised draft
strategy will be sent to AF/RA after the COM's of the
participating U.S. Missions have had a chance to approve
the draft. End note) All agreed that the strategy should
call for increased and better coordinated delivery of USG
resources allocated for anti-trafficking projects in the

6. The regional and Washington representatives agreed that
voluntary prostitution, which is prevalent throughout the
region, should not be addressed by the strategy; rather our
collective efforts should be focused on the transnational
trafficking of children for labor exploitation and the sex
trafficking of girls and women (largely from Nigeria). A
consensus also emerged on the need to place top priority on
prevention efforts, namely education and awareness
campaigns. This arose from the acknowledgement that
attempts to rehabilitate the victims of trafficking in West
and Central Africa are extremely difficult; preventing new
victims is far more cost effective and prospects for
success appear brighter as many at-risk populations do not
appear well aware of the trafficking dangers.

7. The second half of the conference, hosted by the
Ambassador at his residence, invited the participation of
five other donor governments represented by Nigeria-based
diplomats (the Netherlands, Norway, and Italy) and visitors
from London (Scotland Yard and National Criminal
Intelligence Service) and Brussels (Belgian Ministry of
Interior) as well as officials from the World Bank, the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNICEF, the
UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODCCP),
ECOWAS, and the Special Assistant to President Obasanjo on
Human Trafficking and Child Trafficking.

8. The second day opened with an insightful briefing by
Anne Kielland, A Norwegian Child Survival Specialist who
had conducted a year-long research project into child
trafficking for labor in Benin for the World Bank.
Kielland briefed the group on the findings of her research,
which drew on a sampling of 6,000 households of more than
20,000 children -- making it the most reliable and
comprehensive study done to date.

9. Kielland's study found predictable general linkages
between poverty and lack of education with a high incidence
of trafficking. Surprisingly, however, her data shows that
it is the more affluent households within poor villages who
traffic their children at a higher rate. Kielland believes
the economic expectations of these households are higher --
basically greed leading to the "commodification" of
children -- and they have access to the networks outside of
their villages allowing them to "place" their children with
traffickers. Also, the availability of primary education
in a village has no positive effect on trafficking, but a
secondary school does. The presence of TVs and organized
sports (soccer) seem to encourage trafficking; animist
households tend to traffic more than Christian and Muslim
family units.

10. The IOM briefed on its ongoing Nigeria program ($2.1
million), which is funded by Belgium, the Netherlands and
Italy, as well as a new 9-country regional program ($4
million) it hopes to start next year. (Comment: The
Nigeria-based ILO-IPEC representative could not attend the
conference to brief on the ILO-IPEC's $4.3 million, three-
year program for nine countries, which is completely funded
by USDOL and represents the largest USG anti-TIP commitment
in the region. End Comment) UNICEF explained its expanding
programs both regional and country-specific to combat child
trafficking from children's rights perspective. ECOWAS and
UNODCCP described their nascent efforts to deal with
trafficking by using the ECOWAS structure to improve legal
provisions dealing with TIP within member states. The
group heard from the Nigerian President's Special Assistant
on Human Trafficking and Child Labor on how the Obasanjo
Administration has moved to address what is perceived as an
alarming rise in trafficking in and out of Nigeria,
including the President's plans to host a global summit on
TIP in Abuja next year.

11. Comment: The conference gave the U.S. Missions in the
region a valuable opportunity to exchange views on the
trafficking problem as seen from their respective host
countries as well to engage others donors and international
organizations on improved coordination of anti-trafficking
programs. Once circulated among the Embassies in the
region for approval by Chiefs of Mission, the draft
strategy produced by the conference will be transmitted to
the Department. It should serve STATE/AF and other
Washington offices/agencies as a good foundation for
diplomatic and programmatic initiatives in the region. We
look to STATE/AF for approval and elaboration of the
strategy, including clear next steps and possible
commitments of new resources for USG anti-TIP efforts in
the region.


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