In a significant development in the fight against transnational organized crime, particularly human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, the West Africa Coalition Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (WACTIPSOM) held a landmark regional retreat in Abuja, Nigeria. The retreat, which took place from January 20th to 22nd, 2024, brought together representatives from eight West African countries, paving the way for enhanced collaboration and strategic planning.
The initiative to strengthen regional efforts against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (TIPSOM) was kickstarted in 2021 when A-TIPSOM supported the establishment of WACTIPSOM, comprising Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from different West African countries. However, progress had been hindered by the absence of programs to assist members in creating essential working documents.
Recognizing this gap, Mr. Federico Millan, the Team Leader of the A-TIPSOM Project, took charge and ensured the groundbreaking regional retreat is held in Abuja. The event was attended by representatives from Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Sierra Leone. Distinguished guests, including Her Excellency Mrs. Titi Atiku Abubakar, a representative of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) DG, the Head of UNODC Nigeria, a representative of the Nigeria Immigration Service, and the National Human Rights Commission, added significance to the occasion.
During the retreat, a three-day leadership program was organized in collaboration with the National of CSOs Agaist Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL). The retreat addressed the absence of prior gatherings for WACTIPSOM members to plan for sustainability. Notably, a portrait containing the image of the Chieftaincy Attire as the Gatekeeper of Gagi Community was presented to Mr. Federico Millan by the National President of NACTAL and Her Excellency Titi Abubakar, in recognition of his leadership.
Crucial discussions during the retreat led to the development of essential documents, including an annual work plan and strategic plan. These documents, aimed at enhancing collaboration and effectiveness, were presented to partners and donor agencies in attendance.
The WACTIPSOM Regional Retreat proved to be a pivotal moment in the ongoing fight against human trafficking in West Africa. The commitment of key stakeholders, the development of vital working documents, and the strengthened regional network signal a renewed and collective effort to combat transnational organized crime in the region.