Photo: Fred Kuwornu. Credit: - Photo: 2018

The Trafficking of Human Beings

Viewpoint by Fred Kuwornu*

This article and the one which follows entitled ‘Humanitarian Hypocrisy Helps the Criminals Behind Migrant Embarkations’ by Roberto Massari deal with the phenomenon of human trafficking from an Italian point of view – Editor.

NEW YORK (IDN) – The trafficking of human beings worldwide produces 150 billion dollars for the various mafias, of which 100 billion come from the trafficking of Africans. Every woman trafficked earns the Nigerian mafia 60,000 euro. Trafficking 10,000 in Italy results in 600 million euro a year for the mafia. No African would willingly come if they knew the truth about what awaits them in Europe.

I do not want to get into the eternal Italian civil war based on factions and not content, but as an Italian of African descent and now an immigrant in the United States, I believe the time has come to talk about and treat immigration, or rather mobility, as a problem and structural phenomenon which has various levels and not as a tool for politicking or being dragged around like the disputed children of two parents who use them as a weapon of blackmail for their divorce.

According to UN estimates, millions of human beings are trafficked every year with an estimated 150 billion dollars in turnover … I repeat 150 BILLION. I do not know if you have ever lived or worked in the real Africa and which Africans you know in Italy, or if you are a journalist gaining informing from non-Italian newspapers, but the trafficking of human beings with various accessories (children, organs, prostitution) is not a phenomenon that concerns only the “little Italy” of ports or no ports, but a global phenomenon that earns the African, Asian and Mexican mafias 150 billion – and I repeat 150 billion – dollars a year.

This money is not then redistributed to the poor population of these countries but used to subjugate them even more with harassment of all kinds, destabilising the already precarious political balance, by reinvesting it in drugs and weapons.

Have you ever wondered why, on equal terms of poverty and belief that Europe is a land of plenty, those coming from Mozambique, Angola, Kenya are very few, or those arriving from Ghana (my country of origin which has a GDP of seven percent and the absence of war and persecution) try to come?

Because there is something called the Nigerian Mafia that advertises in villages telling people that for 300 euro in 4 weeks it is possible to come to Italy and from there, if they want, move on to other European countries. Except then ripping them off as soon as they get into a van, suddenly raising the fee by 1,000 dollars, which increases again when they arrive in Libya, where they are asked for another 1,000 dollars for the final crossing. All this, not in 4 weeks as they promise, but with an average waiting time of one year.

To this should be added minors who are entrusted to women who are not their real mothers and who will then disappear once they have settled in Europe, and hundreds of women who will instead be channelled into prostitution, each of them worth 60,000 euro in takings for the mafia itself. Just by trafficking 10,000 towards Italy, the Nigerian mafia has a turnover of 600 million euro a year.

To this is further added what Africa loses: young resources. I have met Ghanaians who sold their taxi or their own small herds to come to Europe and find themselves on a street begging or earning three euro an hour if all goes well, treated like beasts, and who obviously cannot even put aside money as it was in their plans.

Even if they want to go back they will never do so through shame because they would not know what to say to the village, they would not know how to justify the money spent to get to Europe; rather, they foment other departures by posting selfies on Facebook showing that all is well, not telling the truth out of shame, and so other young people (eighteen-year-olds, unschooled) try to come to Europe because they think it is easy to get rich.

What is the point of maintaining that this slave trade and this criminal scam of the Nigerian mafia, like their counterparts in Asia, should continue?

Who is it good for? It is not good for the African continent. It is not good for the single African who reaches Europe because 90 percent go underground and in any case will never find decent work. It is not good for Italy, which does not have the economic and cultural resources to manage and substantially keep so many people who cannot contribute, especially in a country where 40 percent of the peers of these young Africans are already without a job. And it is not even good for the image that the European has of the African because he or she is always seen as a victim, a poor person, a weak person.

This as an African, but also a human being, is the most racist – besides colonialist – attitude that can exist, because it does not help anyone except the mafia and those who work in good or bad faith in all this industry linked to providing immediate assistance.

With 5,000 dollars it is easier to open a small business in many African countries than come to Italy to beg, and if only this concept was clear and popular, 90 percent of people would probably never leave for Italy.

Especially those who have completed sixth year and are aged 20. It is not the same type of immigration as 30 years ago where many were also 30-year-olds, some graduates, but many with higher education and they still found jobs in factories and lived in dignified conditions.

I do not know the situation of NGOs dealing with assistance at sea, but I know very well those operating in Africa and most are just part of a parasitic system. For the greatest African thinkers and real political leaders, one of the first things to do is to drive out all NGOs from Africa because, even if the staff who work there – the young volunteers – are in good faith, the NGO system has always served to control and destabilise Africa, as well as create subjection to assistance, not counting the financial business of donations and waste run up by NGOs to maintain leaders by exploiting the image of the poor African child.

Enough of this counterproductive, racist and ignorant way of thinking. It would be interesting to see some of these NGOs take initiatives in Scampia (a suburb of Naples with a high crime rate – ed.) by putting photos of some Neapolitan children in advertisements.

We are tired of your exploitation of this theme for your ideological motives or your fascist or anti-fascist battles on the skin of a continent about which you know little or that you have romanticised and idealised, and that you use to clear your conscience or soothe the guilt of your privileged status. It is time to do serious analysis and field concrete winning solutions, not poison the wells of one party or the other, because whoever wins loses Africa.

It would be useful to have a report from some village in Edo State (Nigeria) to understand the level of cunning, malice and criminal fantasy that has been reached and you will discover that perhaps just transporting and deluding a young illiterate twenty-year-old and his family is the minimum that this powerful and underestimated criminal organisation perpetrates every day, exploiting the desperation and ignorance of people, some of whom are willing to do anything … even sell a newborn child for 100 dollars.

If this is still tolerated, the risks will not be only for Italy, but also for African countries where the problem of dictators is compounded by the presence of narco-traffickers at the level of Escobar’s Colombia or the Mexico of El Chapo, with yet more deaths and underdevelopment of what is already there.

* Filmmaker Fred Kuwornu was born in Bologna in 1971 to a Ghanaian father and an Italian mother. After a degree in Political Science, he worked as a radio and television author, collaborating with the RAI, the Italian national public broadcasting company, and various production companies. In 2010, he produced and directed ‘Inside Buffalo’, a historic account of the 92nd Infantry Division, the African-American segregated combat unit which fought in the Second World War. Translated by Phil Harris. [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 July 2018]

Photo: Fred Kuwornu. Credit:

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top