Nigeria has more enslaved people than any country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Global Slavery Index 2016, released on Tuesday, has revealed.
The survey, conducted in 167 countries across the world by anti-modern slavery organisation, Walk Free Foundation, revealed that there are 875,500 people living in slavery in Nigeria.
The survey said of the 45.8 million people living in slavery in the world, 13.6 percent (6,228,800) are in Africa.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (873,100 people) and Ethiopia (411,600 people) have the second and third largest numbers of people living in slavery sub-Saharan Africa respectively.
According to the survey, slavery in Nigeria takes the form of forced labour in the domestic sector. Forced marriages also account for the second highest form of slavery in the country, the report revealed.
The report revealed that conflict, economic crisis and environmental disaster are the major enablers of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa.
For instance, the survey showed that the Boko Haram conflict in the country’s north east led to an increase of people living in slavery in Nigeria and other neighbouring countries like Chad and Cameroon.
The Islamist group has kidnapped thousands of people in the north east region most of them women and children who they use as sex slaves and put to forced labour.
“Modern slavery in the Sub-Sahara was enabled by economic conditions, violent conflict and territorial displacement, in addition to widespread humanitarian and environmental crises,” the report said.
“The escalation of violence in Nigeria following the Boko Haram conflict has had widespread effects on Nigeria and across the region, particularly in Cameroon where refugees fleeing conflict have sparked a humanitarian crisis.
“As of February 2016, 2.5 million people were displaced as a result of the conflict and 20,000 people have been killed. Conflict is also prevalent in Chad and Cameroon, where Boko Haram is also active in creating violent conflicts, and in recruiting young entrepreneurs through predatory loans.”
The report, which has been described as the most accurate up-to-date analysis of slavery in history, was arrived at after 42,000 interviews conducted in 53 languages, covering 44% of global population.
It revealed that there are 28 percent (10 million) more people in slavery across the world than previously estimated. Modern slavery, it noted, takes the form of human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.
Globally, North Korea is the country with the “greatest prevalence of modern slavery, with 4.37% of its population estimated to be enslaved. It is also the country with the weakest government response in terms of actions taken to combat modern slavery,” the report showed.
In terms of absolute numbers, the report discovered that India has the highest with an estimated 18.35 million enslaved people, followed by China (3.39m), Pakistan (2.13m), Bangladesh (1.53m) and Uzbekistan (1.23m).
Combined, these five countries account for almost 58% of the world’s enslaved, or 26.6 million people.
Walk Free Foundation described the response of governments in Sub-Sahara Africa to modern slavery in their domains as “inadequate”. It said that reports on actions taken by governments to combat modern slavery do not exist.
“Government responses to modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa were characterised by inadequate victim protection and a lack of coordination between government agencies and NGO bodies.
“Reliable data on the steps taken by the government to combat modern slavery was unavailable.
“Despite 33 of the 45 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa running campaigns against known modern slavery risks since 2010, few have raised awareness on methods to identify victims.
“The only country to make this an annual practice was Burundi, whose Children and Ethics Brigade ran anti-trafficking awareness programmes from at least 2011 to 2014. While 28 countries provided a mechanism to report modern slavery, less than half covered all demographics and even fewer had evidence of translation services. Comprehensive reporting mechanisms were only provided in South Africa and Lesotho.”