By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - Nigeria has the highest population of persons living under modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa, with at least 875,500 people trapped in either forced labor or forced marriage in the country, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index (GSI).
GSI is an annual ranking of slavery conditions in countries worldwide by the Walk Free Foundation, an antislavery and anti-human trafficking NGO.
Published on Tuesday, the index also said up to 45.8 million people are living under these conditions globally yet very few countries are taking concrete steps to address the situation.
"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," the foundation said.
"Modern slavery in the Sub-Sahara was enabled by economic conditions, violent conflict and territorial displacement, in addition to widespread humanitarian and environmental crises," it added.
Nigeria is trailed on the list by the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 873,100 people, and Ethiopia which has 411,600 people living under similar conditions in the subregion.
The report surveyed a total of 43,000 people across 167 countries in 53 languages, representing at least 44 percent of the world population, according to background information on the index.
The report says there are 28 percent (10 million) more people in slavery across the world than previously estimated.
It defines modern slavery as taking the shape of forced labor, human trafficking, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, or commercial sexual exploitation.
The report rated North Korea as the country with the "greatest prevalence" of modern slavery, with 4.37 percent of its population estimated to be enslaved and one with the "weakest government response" to combat modern slavery.
In terms of absolute numbers, the report found India to have the highest figure of 18.35 million enslaved people, followed by China at 3.39 million, Pakistan at 2.13 million, Bangladesh at 1.53 million, and Uzbekistan with 1.23 million.