International Police operatives have rescued 64 Nigerians and nationals of other African countries, who have been victims of human trafficking and people smuggling in Mali.
INTERPOL said this was made possible during a coordinated operation in the country.
“The victims, mostly women and girls, were rescued from sexual exploitation forced labour in the mining sector as well as forced begging,” the outfit stated in a report on its website on Friday.
Tagged ‘Operation Horonya’ (‘freedom’ in Bambara language), the activities took place from October 3 to 11 “to support the Malian authorities to identify and dismantle the criminal groups operating in the country and more widely across the region,” Interpol noted.
Police also conducted raids at known trafficking and smuggling hotspots in the country.
It added, “The nearly 70 victims identified and rescued came from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali; and were working in bars, homes and mining sites. Among them were three young boys rescued from an illegally operated Koranic school, where they were allegedly forced to beg for money.”
Meanwhile, four suspected traffickers have been detained awaiting sentencing. Investigations are ongoing to identify additional suspects, it said.
During Operation Horonya, officers carried out checks at the international airport in Bamako, screening passengers’ passports against a range of INTERPOL’s databases.