About 64 victims of human trafficking, mostly Nigerians and nationals of other African countries, have been rescued by the Interpol in Mali after a coordinated operation.
According to reports, the victims were forced into sex trades, forced labour in the mining sector as well as forced begging.
Operation Horonya, which means ‘freedom’ in Bambara, took place to support the Malian authorities to identify and dismantle the criminal groups operating in the country and more widely across the region.
Police also conducted raids at known trafficking and smuggling hotspots in the country
. The nearly 70 victims identified and rescued came from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Nigeria 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. Four suspected traffickers have been detained awaiting sentencing.
“Mali serves as a major transit country for human traffickers who target the most vulnerable members of society. This operation showed that human trafficking and people smuggling is a truly transnational problem,” Interpol secretary general Jurgen Stock said afterwards. He also shared that during the operation the Malian government passed a decree to create a police unit dedicated to tackling human trafficking and migrant smuggling,