East African networks gaining more control on the entire trafficking value chain

As the international day for counter trafficking in persons fast approaches, the world is more than ever before confronted by a highly versatile, complex and unpredictable nature of trafficking networks, rings and the larger context of the organized crime syndicates globally.

Recalling a report released in 2020 by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), the East African human trafficking rings have been on an expansion mission of their operations

During the same year (2020), ninety-six Ugandan women, mostly children and youth, were stopped at Nairobi’s international airport in January en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work opportunities. The girls, who lacked proper employment papers, were victims of a well-established human trafficking ring in East Africa, headquartered in Kenya and operating under the guise of employment agencies. This wasn’t the first such interception. Almost every month, Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations reports at least one interception involving victims not only from Uganda but also Burundi, Rwanda and to a lesser extent Tanzania. Most of East Africa’s trafficking takes place in and through Kenya.

Traditionally the value chain of this criminal network has comprised three links. First are regionally based recruitment brokers who ferry people from their respective countries to Kenya. Second are the Kenyan-based links who ‘receive’ the people and act as the country’s employment agencies. They move victims from Kenya to the host country. Third are the counterparts who often pose as foreign employment agencies. They are stationed in the host country and ‘receive’ people sent from Kenya. Recent cases and new research by the ENACT organized crime project suggest a shift in the workings of the trafficking value chain as far as the third ‘link’ is concerned. There is evidence that the trafficking of women and girls from East Africa to the Middle East is now being carried out entirely by East Africans.

The East African countries appear to lack power in negotiations with Middle Eastern countries on trafficking issues. This is because of gaps in their domestic legislation and regional trafficking strategies. Yet other regions that export labour to the Middle East have shown that this can be done. For example, the Philippines has 23 bilateral agreements with seven countries – most of which are in the Middle East. This allows authorities to oversee the protection and safety of workers and prevent them being exploited by trafficking networks and employers in destination countries. The labour export sector makes up a very significant portion of the Philippines gross domestic product, yet it also comes with challenges and is not an economic cure-it-all. East Africa needs to learn from approaches elsewhere that prevent trafficking and protect workers. Until more robust responses are in place, trafficking and exploitation are likely to grow in the region. This perpetuates the vulnerability of poor women and girls and undermines the prospects of labour exportation as a livelihoods option.

The full report can be ACCESSED HERE

The Global Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report July 2022

The global annual Trafficking in Persons report was released on Tuesday, 19th July (this week) at the U.S. Department of State. As stated in the Secretary of State’s message, “This year’s report is released in the midst of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Russia’s senseless continued invasion of Ukraine and its devastating attacks across that country have inflicted unfathomable pain and suffering and forced millions of Ukrainian citizens and others to flee seeking safety. We are deeply concerned about the risks of human trafficking faced by individuals internally displaced by the war, as well as those fleeing Ukraine, an estimated 90 percent of whom are women and children.”
Kateryna Cherepakha, president of La Strada Ukraine, has been honoured as one of six 2022 TIP Report Heroes, alongside Mohammed Tariqul Islam from Bangladesh, Major Mohammad al-Khlaifat from Jordan, Judge Cornelius Wennah from Liberia, Irena Dawid-Olczyk from Poland, and Apinya Tajit from Thailand. Congratulations to all!

During a recent conference in Rome, the Polish deputy Commander of the National Police reported that they had busted a human trafficking ring at the Ukraine-Polish border targeting the fleeing population. “The traffickers had presented themselves as volunteers seeking to help the fleeing children, girls and women, among others”, said the Polish police chief.

Focus on East Africa

The new report provides an updated data on the country specific performance index. The 2022 TIP report further revealed that not all Countries in the East African region are Party to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. These countries included Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. The report therefore signified the need for the domestication of the Palermo protocol by the States.

Below is an executive summary of the East African country specific reports.


The Government of Kenya does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Kenya remained on Tier 2. These efforts included investigating more trafficking crimes, prosecuting and convicting significantly more traffickers, and identifying more trafficking victims. The government provided limited services to significantly more victims through partnerships with NGOs and reported dispersing more funds from the National Assistance Trust Fund for Assisting Victims of Trafficking to provide victim protection services and support an NGO-owned shelter.

The government also reported increasing services for victims participating in the criminal justice process, such as the ability to provide written testimonies, to prevent re-traumatization. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Protection services for victims, particularly adults, remained limited and inconsistent in quality. The government continued to rely on civil society to provide most victim services, including all shelter services, and did not provide adequate in-kind or financial support to these efforts. Due to the lack of screening among vulnerable populations, including foreign migrants and individuals in commercial sex, and inadequate shelter availability, authorities sometimes detained or deported potential trafficking victims. Despite sustained concerns of official complicity in trafficking crimes, which hindered both law enforcement efforts and victim identification, the government did not report any law enforcement action against allegedly complicit officials. Government efforts to protect Kenyan trafficking victims abroad, particularly migrant workers, remained minimal, and the government did not report any efforts to hold fraudulent recruitment agencies criminally accountable for facilitating trafficking crimes


The Government of Burundi does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Burundi was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes, including investigating, and arresting allegedly complicit officials.

The government established the new Consultation and Monitoring Commission on Prevention and Repression of Trafficking in Persons (National Commission on Trafficking) to lead the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. It identified more trafficking victims among Burundian migrants abroad compared to the previous year and supported their repatriation, and it referred all identified victims to care. The government finalized and began to implement interim standard operating procedures (SOPs) to systematically identify and refer trafficking victims to appropriate care. It continued to operate a dedicated trafficking hotline, which led to the identification of potential trafficking cases. The government also took steps to increase protections for Burundian migrants abroad, including by establishing bilateral agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not identify any trafficking victims in Burundi and largely relied on international and non-governmental partners to provide victim assistance. It did not develop a new national action plan (NAP). A lack of officials’ awareness on the trafficking law and the difference between migrant smuggling and human trafficking continued to impede successful investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes.


The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included finalizing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to services and partnering with NGOs to identify more trafficking victims. The government investigated, prosecuted, and convicted traffickers, including complicit officials.

The government’s Agency for the Prevention and the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons (APLTP) – led inter-ministerial committee and technical working group continued coordinating the government’s anti-trafficking response. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. Congolese National Army (FARDC) officers unlawfully recruited and used six children, including in combat roles, and continued coordinating with an armed group that recruited and used children, including potential trafficking victims, during the reporting period. Authorities penalized victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, and corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns. The government did not adopt comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation for the third consecutive year. Because the government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, the DRC was granted a waiver per the Trafficking Victims Protection Act from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3. Therefore, the DRC remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.


The Government of Rwanda does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Rwanda remained on Tier 2. These efforts included victim identification and referral to care, in partnership with an international organization; finalizing the updated national action plan (NAP); and implementing two ministerial orders establishing inter-agency responsibilities for responding to trafficking crimes against Rwandans overseas and providing them with protection services. The government also increased trafficking investigations and prosecutions. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not convict any traffickers during the reporting period. The government lacked a proactive standardized mechanism to adequately screen for potential trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and refer them to protective services.


TIER 3 The Government of the Republic of South Sudan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, on the government’s anti-trafficking capacity, is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore, South Sudan remained on Tier 3. Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including convening its anti-trafficking inter-ministerial task force, finalizing the 2021-2023 National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Trafficking, and conducting awareness activities.

However, during the reporting period, there was a government policy or pattern of employing and recruiting child soldiers. Government security and law enforcement officers continued to forcibly recruit and use child soldiers and did not hold any members of the South Sudan People’s Défense Forces (SSPDF) or South Sudan National Police Services (SSNPS) criminally accountable for these unlawful acts. Authorities did not report investigating or prosecuting any forced labour or sex trafficking crimes for the 10th consecutive year. The government did not report identifying or assisting any victims and continued to penalize victims for unlawful acts their traffickers compelled them to commit.


The Government of Tanzania does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Tanzania was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included investigating significantly more trafficking cases, convicting more traffickers, and identifying more trafficking victims. The government officially established and allocated funds to an expenditure account for the Anti-Trafficking Fund and provided more funding for anti-trafficking programs led by the Anti-Trafficking Secretariat (ATS).

The government, in partnership with international organizations, provided more training to law enforcement officials on victim-centered investigation practices and finalized the 2021-2024 anti-trafficking national action plan (NAP). However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Although the government convicted more traffickers during the reporting period, the lenient sentencing for the majority of convicted traffickers and the failure to sentence many convicted traffickers consistent with the 2008 anti-trafficking law weakened deterrence and did not adequately address the nature of the crimes. Due to inconsistent use of formal identification procedures and limited protection services, authorities reportedly deported, detained, and arrested potential trafficking victims, including children, for alleged prostitution or immigration violations without screening for trafficking indicators. Government efforts to protect Tanzanian trafficking victims abroad, particularly migrant workers, remained minimal, and the government did not report any efforts to hold fraudulent recruitment agencies criminally accountable for facilitating trafficking crimes.


The Government of Uganda does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Uganda was upgraded to Tier 2. These efforts included investigating and prosecuting more trafficking crimes; convicting the most traffickers ever reported in a single year; and developing robust standardized operating procedures (SOPs) for law enforcement and increasing trainings for investigators and prosecutors. Government officials increased use of the National Referral Guidelines for Management of Victims of Trafficking in Uganda (NRG), resulting in the government identifying more trafficking victims. For the first time in six years, the government reported directly assisting victims and referring victims to protection services.

The government enacted new employment regulations to increase the ethical recruitment of Ugandan migrant workers; the government implemented these regulations by investigating and suspending more recruitment companies engaging in fraudulent and exploitative recruitment activities. The government allocated significantly more funds for anti-trafficking activities. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Access to adequate services for some victims, particularly adult males and individuals in rural areas, remained limited, and the lack of shelters in the country, both long-term and short-term, continued to adversely affect the government’s ability to adequately protect trafficking victims. The absence of victim-witness protection policies hindered some investigations and prosecutions; additionally, some law enforcement officials lacked a victim-centered approach when working with victims, potentially discouraging them from participating in criminal proceedings. Government efforts to protect Ugandan trafficking victims exploited abroad, particularly among migrant workers, remained minimal.

You can access the full REPORT HERE.

Buried alive (Organ Harvesting): Albinos pay the price for their skin

Despite majority of African countries illegalizing harvesting of body organs, the continent continues to be an epicenter of human trafficking for organ harvesting purposes. A 2021 report by Interpol showed North and West Africa to be the leading source market for the illegal trade due to impoverished communities and displaced populations being at greater risk of exploitation.

The report shows the human trafficking syndicates involved in organ trafficking in these regions have connections to the medical sector in countries from Africa and beyond, notably in Asia and the Middle East, with probable links on transplant tourism, where a patient travels abroad to buy an organ for illegal transplant or transplants performed in North Africa with organs illegally sourced in the region, or transplants done elsewhere with illegally sourced organs.

In 2021, Marriet Achieng from Kipsongo slums in Kitale town, Kenya, who scored 404 marks at Chetoto Primary School shocked many when she opted to sell one of her kidneys to finance her secondary school education. The 15-year-old girl said her mother was a hairdresser who could not afford to raise school fees to enable her join St Mary’s Girls High School, Bomet.

Asked how she could sell her organ, the girl said she was ready to look for a buyer and that she was willing to go through the surgical procedure to see her kidney removed. “I’m not worried about the procedure of removing it. My interest is to see that I get my secondary education school fees,” she added.

Achieng’s story is not unique in Kenya considering the number of people who have come out to “sell” their kidney to raise money during difficult times.

Organized criminal groups coerce the unemployed, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into selling an organ with promises of job opportunities abroad, as well as use of threats and violence.

Just recently (early July 2022), a Nigerian senator and his wife were arrested in London and charged with trafficking a 15-year-old boy for the purpose of harvesting organs for their sick daughter. Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka was accused of conspiring to transport a child to the United Kingdom (UK) for a kidney harvesting, with prosecutors claiming the child was coerced into donating one of his kidneys to the politician’s daughter.

The Albino story

It is however the facts/story around the people living with albinism in Africa that totally blows the imagination of human rights and dignity. Albinos face some of the most serious dangers in some parts of Africa, where experts say they are at risk of being trafficked for use in witchcraft rituals.

According to a recent report released by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), people with albinism in Tanzania have a price on their heads - whether dead or alive, adults or children. The country is a source for all the trafficking routes in East and Southern Africa, where markets for their body parts prosper.

Those with the condition are socially alienated and stigmatized. Although crimes against people with albinism are under-reported, the high values attached to the illicit trade make this form of human trafficking one of the most lucrative and harmful.

Tanzania hosts the largest population of people with albinism worldwide

Albinism is a genetic condition where skin lacks the melanin pigment, making a person appear unusually light. While one out of 15 000 people in most African sub-regions has albinism, one out of 1.400 Tanzanians has the condition.

According to the April report, a complete set of albino organs in Tanzania is priced at about US$75 0000 by criminal networks serving wealthy clients. Children are said to be worth more.  A living albino costs US$340 000, according to Vicky Ntetema, an undercover investigative journalist. These values make the illicit trade in albinos one of the most lucrative and harmful forms of human trafficking worldwide.

Albinos in Tanzania live in constant fear of being maimed or even killed for the color of their skin. Brutal attacks on albinos are common-place, as black-market prices for their limbs, bones and organs can often be as high as thousands of dollars. The 'magic' is thought to be stronger if the body parts are taken while the victims, especially children, are conscious and alive. Albinos are targeted in four ways by criminal networks that include witch doctors, kidnappers, traffickers and killers: they can be kidnapped, trafficked from another village or country, killed and dismembered for body parts, or their graves may be exhumed and their organs removed.

The clients who buy these ‘products’ are wealthy, influential, and are from different parts of East and Southern Africa, including Tanzania and its immediate neighbors. It appears that most are politicians seeking re-election and business magnates who believe that potions made from albino body parts will make their enterprises thrive, according to ISS.

When a wealthy client dies, albinos are sourced to serve him in his afterlife. In the most bizarre practice of this superstition, a dead client is buried with four live albinos – two on either side of the deceased body, which is laid on their laps.

Most attacks against people with albinism occur in the rural areas of Tanzania, especially in the Victoria, Tanganyika, Nyasa and other smaller lake regions. The towns of Kagera, Geita, Chato, Shinyanga, Singida and Mwanza are hotspots.

Unlike in urban centers, it is hard to detect when a person with albinism is killed in villages in rural areas. Communities believe that albinos ‘disappear’ and do not die, says Wazambi, and so do not report their missing relatives to the authorities.

There are three active albino trafficking routes in the East and Southern African regions, says Ntetema: Tanzania-Malawi-Burundi-Kenya; Tanzania-Mozambique-South Africa; and Tanzania-Swaziland-South Africa. Tanzania features in all these routes as a source country, but albinos are targeted in all these countries by the criminal networks who control the trade. The networks act independently but also work together to exchange organs and charms.

Trafficking and killing of people with albinism occur where government services are often absent or ineffective

During his presidential election campaign in 2015, the late John Magufuli vowed to end the killing of albinos and pledged that government officers would be held personally responsible if any took place.

Despite Magufuli’s stance, killings continued, some are reported and many more are unreported. In 2021, four killings of albinos were reported by the human rights organisations Under the Same Sun and the Legal and Human Rights Centre. A boy of six was discovered mutilated in Kigoma city in May, while a woman was killed in Tabora municipality. And two graves exhumed in October in Tanga and Arusha cities revealed bodies that had been desecrated and were missing their left legs.

In other African countries, albino killings have reportedly increased with the COVID-19 pandemic as more people have fallen into poverty and turned to the organ trade to make money. International advocacy campaigns by human rights organizations and the United Nations aim to raise awareness about the threats faced by albinos worldwide. These campaigns focus on influencing and instituting effective policy and protective frameworks at national levels.

But it is difficult to institute interventions for what can be described as a ‘silent crime’. Albino trafficking and killing occur in places where government services are often absent or ineffective. There is also less advocacy at these local levels due to traditions, customs and superstitions, leaving robust criminal networks to operate unfettered.

Political stances such as Magufuli’s are to be encouraged. Yet these remain political rhetoric if not accompanied by local-level advocacy. This advocacy, which may be spearheaded by the media and civil society, would need to focus on shifting the perspectives on albinism. This shift would decrease the stigmatization and create counter-narratives that break down beliefs that enable the silent, deadly trade in people with albinism. Such campaigns are insufficient on their own, however – local-level leaders who vocally support these initiatives are needed to change mindsets, along with district and national-level support through law enforcement and policy frameworks.

The National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Plan of Action 2021-2024 launched in March is a commitment in the right direction. However, an additional and urgent focus is specific legislation on organ trafficking that will support its 2008 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in Tanzania. And Tanzania is not alone, countries across the East and Southern African are necessary partners in the detection and prosecution of crimes in their own countries and in the cross-border trade in people with albinism.

Olympic star, Sir Mo Farah, reveals he was trafficked to the U.K. as a child

Domestic Slavery

Sir Mo Farah, a renowned and award-winning British Olympic athlete revealed in a recent BBC and Red Bull Studios documentary that he was brought to the U.K. when he was nine years old and forced to work as a domestic servant.

His account of human trafficking and modern slavery has sparked an urgent conversation about how trafficking can occur, how the hostile immigration environment in the U.K. prevents people from coming forward, and the urgent need for better protection mechanisms for victims and survivors.

Mo Farah’s story

As a child, Farah was brought to the U.K. from his home in Somaliland by a woman he didn’t know. He was told that he was to no longer use his real name, Hussein Abdi Kahin, and was now to adopt the name of Mohammed Farah. She told him that if he ever wanted to see his family again, he would keep quiet.

From that point on, Farah’s childhood was spent in domestic servitude, cooking, cleaning and looking after the woman’s children. “For years I just kept blocking it out. But you can only block it out for so long,” the athlete reflects.

For the first few years, the family he stayed with wouldn’t allow him to go to school, but when he was about 12 years old, he enrolled at Feltham Community College in West London. Staff were told that Farah was a refugee from Somalia. His former teacher, Sarah Rennie, tells the BBC that he arrived at the school “unkempt and uncared for,” spoke very little English, and was an “emotionally and culturally alienated” child.

Eventually, Farah’s sports teacher, Alan Watkinson, noticed a transformation in the youngster when he hit the athletic track. “The only language he seemed to understand was the language of physical education and sports,” he says.

Sports as a lifeline

Farah says sports was a lifesaver for him, since “the only thing I could do to get away from this [living situation] was to get out and run.”  Eventually, he confided to Watkinson his true identity and background, and that he was forced to work for a family. Watkinson contacted social services, who placed Farah with another Somali family.

“I still missed my real family, but from that moment everything got better.  I felt like a lot of stuff was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt like me. That’s when Mo came out – the real Mo.”

Farah began to make a name for himself as an athlete and at age 14 was invited to compete for English schools in a race in Latvia. However, he had no travel documents. Watkinson helped him apply for British citizenship, granted in July 2000, under the name Mohamed Farah.

Reuniting with his family

 As he gained visibility in the Somali community, a woman approached him in a London restaurant and gave him a tape. It contained a recorded message for Farah from someone he hadn’t heard from in a long time: his mother, Aisha.

His mother there tells him the origin of their journey: “We were living in a place with nothing, no livestock and the land was destroyed. We all thought we were dying. All we heard was ‘Boom, boom, boom’. I sent you away because of the war. I sent you with your uncle to Djibouti so you would have something.”

The reality for trafficking victims in the U.K.

Farah says he wants to tell his story to challenge public perceptions of trafficking and slavery. “I had no idea there were so many people going through exactly the same thing I did. It just goes to show how lucky I was,” he says.

We are grateful to Sir Mo Farah for his immense bravery in coming forward to share his experiences. It is disheartening that despite the trauma he experienced as a young child, Farah still risked legal repercussions from the Home Office for disclosing his truth. While the Home Office issued a statement saying they would not take action against Farah, this is not the reality for many others like him. Instead, the Home Office routinely detains, deports and punishes trafficking victims rather than supporting them.

ALL trafficking victims and survivors deserve support and being an exceptional athlete should not be a prerequisite to accessing your rights.

International Counter Trafficking in Persons Day, 30th July: The Genesis

Since medieval history, human beings still practiced not so good social-cultural lifestyles such as forced marriages, female genital mutilations, debt bondage and slavery; to name but a few. The human behaviour and the socio-cultural practices have over the centuries transformed and changed with the industrial revolution and the modern societal practices as understood today.

Towards the end of the 20th century, slave trade was assumed to be a thing of the past and all civilized societies demonstrated increased degrees of freedoms and adherence to universal declaration on the human rights as guided by the United Nations’ resolutions.

But alas! In mid-1900’s, Human trafficking had started to pick up momentum as a lucrative criminal enterprise whose sole purpose was profiteering. By the year 2000, at Palermo, Italy, the whole world acknowledged that indeed human trafficking had become a thorn on the life humanity and it had exemplified itself as modern-day slavery. The Palermo protocol therefore marked the first major global effort to develop an international instrument that championed a collective effort by UN Member States.

Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. Since 2003 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide. Globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims and are convicting more traffickers. This can be the result of increased capacity to identify victims and/or an increased number of trafficked victims.

In 2006, responding to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) request for intergovernmental agencies to further cooperate in order to strengthen technical assistance provided to countries in the area of human trafficking, the Government of Japan hosted a coordination meeting of international organizations working to counter trafficking in persons. The participating organizations (ILO, IOM, UNICEF, UN Women, UNHCR and UNODC) decided to continue the effort initiated and proposed the creation of a coordination group. The Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Human Trafficking (ICAT) was formally established in March 2007.

In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, urging Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge. The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide. One of the crucial provisions in the Plan is the establishment of a UN Voluntary Trust Fund for victims of trafficking, especially women and children.

The Trust Fund facilitates effective, on-the-ground assistance and protection to victims of trafficking, through grants to specialized NGOs. It aims to prioritize victims coming from a context of armed conflict and those identified among large refugee and migration flows.

In 2013, the General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action. Member States also adopted resolution A/RES/68/192 and designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

In September 2015, the world adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and embraced goals and targets on trafficking in persons. These goals call for an end to trafficking and violence against children; as well as the need for measures against human trafficking, and they strive for the elimination of all forms of violence against and exploitation of women and girls.

Another important development is the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which produced the ground breaking New York Declaration. Of the nineteen commitments adopted by countries in the Declaration, three are dedicated to concrete action against the crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Traffickers the world over continue to target women and girls. The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 35 per cent of those trafficked for forced labour are female. Conflict further exacerbates vulnerabilities, with armed groups exploiting civilians and traffickers targeting forcibly displaced people.