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Potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy soaring, says UN
July 24,2017   By:Xinhua

July 24, 2017 -- Potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea have soared over the past three years, the UN migration agency, IOM, reported Friday, with an almost 600 percent increase in that period.

"This upward trend has continued during the first six months of 2017, with most victims arriving from Nigeria," IOM senior press officer, Joel Millman, told journalists at a UN media briefing in Geneva.

The UN agency said the new report is published by IOM, and is titled "Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean Route".

Among other findings, the report states that sexual exploitation increasingly involves younger girls -- often minors -- who are already subject to violence and abuse on their way to Europe.

IOM estimates that 80 percent of girls arriving from Nigeria -- whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 -- are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

In certain cases, young women are duped from home into thinking they will land jobs such as hairdressers in Europe, Flavio Di Giacomo, of IOM public relations in Italy said by telephone from Rome at the press briefing.

They are escorted to Europe often by "madams" only to find they have to repay their trafficking debt by becoming prostitutes, and on their way sometimes they are raped in Libya, he said, noting they are "trafficked not smuggled".

"Some of them are so young, they sometimes don't even know what sex or prostitution is," said Di Giacomo.

The report is based on data collected by IOM at landing sites and in reception centers for migrants in the regions of southern Italy, where the agency carries out identification of potential victims and assists those who, once identified, decide to escape their exploiters and accept IOM support.

"Trafficking is a transnational crime that devastates the lives of thousands of people and is the cause of untold suffering," said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean. "This is a theme we have been working on for years, committing to protect, prevent and collaborate with the authorities dealing with organized crime."