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The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), decried the news of the death of 26 young girls reported to be Nigerian girls while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

In a statement signed by the Head, Press &Public Relations, Josiah Emerole, for the Director-General (NAPTIP), it said it received the news with great sadness.

The statement reads that the 26 girls were among the 375 migrants said to be aboard a Spanish Warship, Cantabria, which docked at the port in the southern Italian city of Salerno.

The statement said “The Director-General Dame Julie Okah-Donli and the entire Management are saddened by this unfortunate occurrence which has cut short the lives of the young women in their prime and in very painful and suspicious circumstances. The deaths are untimely and unwarranted”

“What has happened is one of the negative effects of embarking on desperate, dangerous and illegal journeys in the guise of seeking for greener pastures abroad” it added.

The statement added that in the past few years, the Agency has mounted awareness campaigns against human trafficking and illegal migration and has consistently persuaded fellow citizens to resist any temptation of embarking on such dangerous and life threatening journeys through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea that can end up in organ harvesting, forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced begging and death.

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While praying for the repose of the souls of the departed, the statement advised that “we all should learn lessons from this unfortunate occurrence and join hands with NAPTIP to stop human trafficking and irregular migrations from our country”.

The statement also called for a high level investigation by the United Nations on this incident and others before it along the Mediterranean region.

“This death is one too many. We need to know the identities of the owners of the rickety boats that carry people along that axis as well as their owners, so that they could be prosecuted appropriately” She said

“For us as an Agency we will engage with the Italian authorities on this, with a view to knowing the Nigerians identified to be involved in trafficking our people through this dangerous route to apply the laws against them”.

“We reiterate that human trafficking and irregular migration are criminal activities that must be stopped and we need the collaboration of all Nigerians to end this. Our young people must resist the lure to undertake such treacherous journeys, as thousands of Nigerians have perished while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea,” the statement added.

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