As New Year’s celebrations began to fade around the world, Free the Slaves and our partners in Senegal and Nigeria worked hard to help 19 women and children freed from severe sex trafficking in Senegal return to their families in Nigeria. Staff from Free the Slaves and La Lumiere (LL) coordinated with authorities in Senegal and the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to secure the approval for travel and ensure the safe return of the women and children to Nigeria.
The trip home began on January 3, 2023, with a bus ride from a rehabilitation shelter in Kedougou to a hotel near the Blaise Diagne airport in Dakar, Senegal. This followed all the mandatory travel protocols, including COVID-19 tests. The women and children were briefed on their legal rights related to the 2005 Trafficking in Persons Act of Senegal and given the opportunity to request legal counseling and support in the future.
The group traveled in the company of an FTS and LL staff to their final destination. The group awoke at 4 am to travel to the airport and check in for their flights home. The trip to Lagos, Nigeria, required an extended stopover in Côte d’Ivoire. After a long day of travel, the group reached Lagos at 11 pm, where the women and children were greeted and received by the NAPTIP office staff. As the women arrived at the airport, they sang the Nigerian national anthem. Click here to listen to their song, a rendition of the National Anthem “To serve with heart and might, one nation bound in freedom, peace, and unity.” The Emmanuel Foundation in Lagos kindly provided transportation to the NAPTIP dormitory, where the group spent the night.
As they departed for their homes, one of the women said, “Thank you! I appreciate what you did for my baby and me!”
Free the Slaves is exceptionally grateful for the collaboration and assistance of everyone involved in returning these amazing women and children to their families.
These activities are funded by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The opinions, findings, and conclusions therein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.