Okah-Donli, Anti-Human Trafficking Volunteers Hit Sports Fest, Sensitise Athletes, Officials

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Deliberate institutional policy, aggressive sensitization and massive awareness creation across Nigeria is key to ensuring major solution to the issues of human trafficking and irregular migration in the Country.

Dame Julie Okah- Donli, the Immediate Past Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking, made this assertion on Thursday when she appeared at the venue of the ongoing National Sports Festival, in Benin, Edo State Capital.

She, working in collaboration with Edo State Government, arrived the venue alongside over 500 anti-human trafficking volunteers and officials of Roost Foundation

Specifically, the former NAPTIP Director General who is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Roost Foundation, said the youths, which constitute a larger population of Nigeria must be adequately enlightened with a two-fold counter trafficking message; the evil associated with human trafficking and irregular migration as well as the alternative life-lifting initiatives and schemes available for them here in Nigeria.

She was addressing the World Press Conference which included local and foreign media shortly after sensitising officials and participants at the formal opening of the 20th National Sports Festival being hosted by the Edo State Government.

Dame Julie Okah – Donli, had stormed the Festival in collaboration with the Edo state task force on human trafficking with over 500 anti- human trafficking volunteers and officials of Roost Foundation armed with over 2 Million handbills and other counter-trafficking leaflets sensitising athletes and officials who converged on different locations for the sports festival.

In addition to the awareness creation strategies at the main bowl of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the opening ceremony, she also led a large number of the volunteers to the University of Benin Games Village which serves as the residential quarters for participants sensitising them on the components of sporting dimension of human trafficking and also counselling them in the process.

Speaking with the media, the Roost Foundation Chief Executive commended the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Edo State Government and precisely the Honorable Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, for being able to gather the youths for the festival despite the huge challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other associated hitches.

Said she: “I wish to commend the Federal Government of Nigeria and specifically our dynamic Sports Minister for making the much expected National Sports Festival a reality. This year’s festival is very unique and important to the youths because it helps them to relieve the much compressed boredom occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Because Roost Foundation is a global Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organization committed to the fight against human trafficking, gender-based violence and other associated crimes, we decided to storm this festival with our partners, the Edo State task force on human trafficking and a large number of our personnel and volunteers made up of experts and counsellors to sensitise officials and participants on issues relating to human trafficking through the use of sports.

“Our findings revealed that human traffickers now use sports to lure and traffic our youths. They are deceived into believing that there is a sports academy waiting to sign them on in the destination Countries. Sadly, most of them have ended up as victims and losing their kidney in the process.

“In addition to many that are being recruited and trafficked for non-existent clubs in the destination Countries, a large number of our youths who were trafficked as fans for previous sports tournaments are still suffering across the World.

“It has been a worth-while engagement with athletes and officials at this sports festival. Apart from the sensitisation, we had a long hour counseling session with them at the various points even at the games village and Roost Foundation is confident that they will surely go back to their states well informed.

Noted Okah-Donli: “Human trafficking is a pandemic and monster that requires strategic non-kinetic approach in order to achieve the desired result and that is why Roost Foundation targeted this year’s National Sports Festival”.

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