USAID contributes $10mn to fight human trafficking in Afghanistan
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it will contribute $10 million to the International Organization on Migration (IOM) to end the exploitation of men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex-trafficking in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of State 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report lists Afghanistan as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking victims to these and other destinations. IOM has been fighting human trafficking in Afghanistan since 2005. Through the new, three-year USAID-funded project, IOM will use a “Prevent, Protect and Partner” approach to combat TIP issues in Afghanistan by preparing Afghan institutions to effectively prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and improve regional coordination to combat cross-border trafficking.
“Trafficking is a really serious blight on Afghanistan,” said Laurence Hart, IOM’s chief of mission and special envoy in Kabul. “We will use training and information campaigns to strengthen law enforcement regionally, and we will keep victims safe through recovery services, repatriation and/or reintegration into their communities.”
In recent years, IOM has observed a steady increase in young females trafficked from bordering countries in Afghanistan. TIP in Afghanistan is also largely internal – many victims do not even leave their home provinces. The majority of Afghan trafficking victims are children who end up in carpet making and brick factories, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, begging, driving and transporting goods, and drug smuggling in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Europe, and South Asia.
“Although slavery is considered a thing of past, it continues to exist throughout the world, affecting the lives of millions of people,” said USAID Afghanistan Mission Director Herbert Smith. “It is important to focus on the rights and needs of victims in the fight against trafficking in persons.”
While it is difficult to provide actual numbers for internal and cross border flows due to the security and cultural context of Afghanistan, IOM has been assisting an increasing number of victims: from 13 victims in 2005 to 341 in 2012. IOM’s interventions include the development of the national law on trafficking, and it has worked closely with government ministries to raise awareness and prepare law enforcement officials, judiciary and religious leaders to respond.
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