Drugs and Crime in Nigeria: Checking in on Valentina's UN Internship

15 Dec 2016 - 14:15

Valentina Pancieri, a PhD candidate at the Centre is currently in Abuja, Nigeria, completing a 3 month internship she has been serving with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Abuja. While in Nigeria she has been carrying out fieldwork for her doctoral degree while also conducting an assessment of the problems of forced child domestic labour, baby factories and external sex trafficking from Nigeria to Europe; as part of her internship responsibilities with the UNODC.

Valentina's PhD research project focuses on the evolution of Nigerian transnational organized crime in Italy and South Africa, with the Italian portion of the project exploring sex trafficking as the primary illicit business of Nigerian criminal networks in the country.  Because Italy is geographically easier to access from Nigeria than other European countries, 99.7% of Nigerian migrants travelling by sea to Europe use Italy as their entry point into Europe (UNCHR, European refugees and migrants’ emergency response, January 2015 – March 2016). 


The UN’s refugee agency, UNCHR (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), estimates that between January and October of 2016, 33,808 Nigerian nationals arrived on Italian shores. Of these Nigerians, 9.781 are women and 2.732 are unaccompanied minors. In August 2016, (specify full name of IOM the first time its cited followed with the parenthetical IOM) IOM reported that 80% of the women arriving in Italy would later be exploited into prostitution.


The Centre’s PhD researcher Valentina Pancieri was recently invited by the European Union delegation in Abuja to present a summary of her work on the current situation and recent trends in human trafficking and smuggling in Nigeria, with a focus on sex trafficking into Europe, as part of an EU sponsored Conference on Human Rights. 


The private event was held on International Human Rights day, Dec. 8th, at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Abuja. Following her presentation, Valentina also participated in a panel discussion with distinguished Nigerian experts in the field of human trafficking that included Mr. Godwin E. Morka, the Director Research and Programme development of NAPTIP (National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking in Persons); Mrs. Veronica Umaru, the national coordinator for WOTCLEF, an active NGO working to support women and children victims of trafficking; and Mr. Emmanuel Mayah, investigative journalist and winner of 19 media award, who in 2009, journeyed for 37 days as an observer and reporter with migrants across the Sahara Desert on the road to Europe.

The roster of invited guests attending the conference included professionals working in the field of human trafficking, (UN and IOM officials), NGO representatives, journalists and diplomats from the various national embassies located in Abuja.