Including minor migrants’ voices in combating human trafficking.

On 30th August, Counter human trafficking Trust- East Africa in partnership with Forum for Women, the Kamukunji sub county office among other stakeholders held an open forum themed’ Including minor survivors voices in combating human trafficking’ at California Digital Resource Centre, Eastleigh. The forum aimed at bringing together migrants from the EAC region- Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia residing within Kamukunji subcounty to share their experiences as minor migrants, to help the stakeholders understand how the migrants find themselves in Kenya and how they become vulnerable

:“lncluding voices of minor migrants in combating human trafficking”, at the California Digital Resource Center, Eastleigh, Nairobi.


Sent Home: How Kenyan’s dream of life as a UK Care worker turned sour.

It is a bitter November night and Anthony Mbare is shivering in a car in rural Wiltshire, south-west England, waiting to see his next client. It’s 3C and he has been here for almost two hours but he cannot turn on the heater because the car battery might die. A petrol-station coffee to warm him up is £3 he cannot afford. He blows on his hands, wriggles his toes and huddles under a blanket.

At around 9pm, Mbare knocks on the client’s door. She is “middle class”, elderly, kind and terminally ill. For the next 30 minutes he will provide personal care and help her get ready for bed. By the time he makes it home, he will have seen 10 clients and been out for more than 16 hours, having had his first appointment at 7am. Today is a good day: he will make £61.20. Some days it is as little as £15.

Mbare is one of thousands of care workers hired from abroad to help tackle a chronic staffing shortage in social care. In the year to March 2023, 57,693 people were granted skilled worker visas to take up jobs in the sector, with most recruited from lower-income countries outside the EU.

For Mbare, moving to the UK had seemed like a chance to transform his family’s future. The father of three uprooted his life in Kenya to come: he sold his belongings, left his job and paid £2,500 in “admin” fees to a domiciliary agency which, he claims, promised him a full-time, minimum-wage job – 10 times what he could make back home.

But last week, less than a year after he arrived, he says he was forced to return to Nairobi – “£10,000 in debt” and with no job to go back to. He claims his employer fired him and terminated his visa sponsorship after he raised concerns about working conditions. It then failed to provide him with a reference, he says, thwarting his chances of finding another care sector sponsor – and leaving him unable to remain in the UK. The company denies wrongdoing and disputes Mbare’s account.

When Mbare began working in the UK in September 2022, he found the job tough but rewarding. He says he formed close bonds with his clients – mostly elderly people receiving end-of-life care – and was treated by some relatives as “part of the family”.

But the conditions were not what he had expected. Before leaving Kenya, he says he was told by his sponsor, Merit Healthcare, that he would work 40 hours a week for £10.20 per hour. A contract seen by the Observer says his annual salary would be £21,200, split into even monthly payments.

However, when he arrived, he received far fewer hours, which he said left him struggling to afford basic living costs. Sometimes he would set off for the day before 7am and return at 11pm but spend as little as two- or three-hours providing care to clients, split into half-hour chunks.

With long gaps between appointments, and no pay for driving or waiting time, he found himself with long periods unpaid. He could have gone home to rest instead of waiting but says he could not afford the extra fuel.

Payslips for September to January 2023 show Mbare made between £980 and £1,100 each month – hundreds less than he was expecting. At that rate, his total annual income would have been around £12,000 to £13,000. With debts and school fees to pay, Mbare persevered at first – desperate to make enough after rent and bills to send money to his family.

Then, four months in, he says Merit insisted he agree to a vehicle policy requiring him to pay the costs of road tax, insurance and upkeep for a company car used for driving between clients, which it had previously funded. Alternatively, he could buy a car at cost price and have a monthly fee taken from his salary. Mbare says the changes would have cost him hundreds of pounds each month. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to be a slave,’” he says. “I didn’t know how I would ever pay it back.”

Documents show that Mbare raised concerns with a manager, hoping the situation could be resolved. Days later, the company fired him and told the Home Office it was cancelling his visa sponsorship. In a termination letter on 20 January 2023, Merit said he was being dismissed for failure to comply with the new vehicle rules. It also accused him of “insubordination” by “inciting other employees to disagree with our policies”. The company told the Observer it had fired Mbare for “legal and valid reasons” but could not supply further details due to data protection rules.

Over the following weeks, Mbare tried to appeal against the decision, and wrote to the Home Office requesting help. But he received no reply and, on 1 August, received a letter saying that, unless he found another sponsor, he would have to leave the country within 60 days. He interviewed for other care jobs and was offered them but says the process stalled as he did not have a UK reference. On 26 August, having exhausted all other options and facing deportation if he did not leave, he flew home to Kenya.

Now back with his family in Juja, a town north-east of Nairobi, the former carpenter says he does not know how they will repay the £10,000 in debts he accrued in agency fees, training charges, flights, relocation costs and interest on loans, which he had expected to be able to repay through the UK job. He expects he will have to sell the house his family built. “I thought this job would make my life better,” he says.

His story has sparked calls for reform of the “tied” visa system in the UK care sector, which campaigners say leaves migrant workers at risk of exploitation and abuse.

Under the rules, health and care workers must be sponsored by an individual employer, which their visa is then tied to. Critics say the system leaves workers dependent on their employer for the right to work in the UK, making it difficult for them to switch jobs and less likely to speak out for fear of repercussions.

Fizza Qureshi, the chief executive of Migrants’ Rights Network, said the charity knew of a “vast number of cases where migrant workers are being trapped in their current jobs because employers are withholding references, or threatening them if they try to change employers”. She added: “This case is symptomatic of a system that is being blatantly used to abuse and extort migrant workers.”

Adis Sehic, a senior policy officer at the Work Rights Centre, said the threat of deportation was frequently used as a tool to control employees. “The current system places too much power in the hands of rogue sponsors,” he said.

Narmi Thiranagama, a policy officer at Unison, said: “The way the hostile environment combines with the underfunded social care sector ends up with the worker paying the price.”

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority – part of the Home Office – has also acknowledged that tied visas drive exploitation. In its June 2023 intelligence report, it said “the most common vulnerability” of victims, many of whom are in the care sector, was them being “tied into a certificate of sponsorship or visa”. This led to them “being forced to work for the employer even if the conditions were unacceptable, and the employer using the threat of cancelling the sponsorship if the worker complained”.

Mbare believes that if the tied system was not in place, leaving him free to switch to another care sector employer, he “definitely” would have stayed in the UK and been able to repay his debts. But, compared with others he has spoken to, he believes his UK experience was “pretty mild”

He knows of care workers who paid agencies up to £8,000 for jobs in the UK, and are now working long days only to be paid £700 at the end of the month. “There’s a woman who’s calling me saying she’s been eating bread and water every day,” he says.

Others have sold their land and emptied their parents’ pension pots to pay agencies that promised them “so much money and so much work”. “They have given everything to help their children travel abroad to try and provide a more comfortable life. Now they can’t even provide survival.”

Mbare said he could not believe such exploitation could happen in the developed world. “My love for the UK has completely gone,” he said. “I have tried to warn others. I tell them: it’s not what it looks like. The government knows this exploitation is happening but no one is doing anything about it.”

Justine Carter, director at Unseen UK, which runs the UK modern slavery helpline, said reports of exploitation in the care sector were “exploding” – with 708 potential victims identified in 2022, compared with 63 in 2021. Cases include workers being charged up to £20,000 to secure jobs; forced to work long hours or given fewer hours than they were promised; or being paid in a way that did not reflect the time “actually being worked”.

“The tied visa creates an environment where it’s easier for that person to become much more vulnerable,” she said.

She added that expenses associated with providing care – “whether that’s costs of a worker or costs to get them to and from clients” – should always be borne by the employer.

Mbare’s story also raises questions about checks performed on companies granted sponsor licences to recruit workers from abroad. Visa sponsors are bound by licence conditions and employment laws, and can be inspected by the Home Office to ensure compliance. In the case of Merit Healthcare, Mbare says he wrote to the department five months ago, providing details of working conditions and raising concerns about his termination, but received no reply.

The Home Office declined to answer questions about Mbare’s case, but said it “strongly condemned” any companies that hired migrant workers “under false pretences” and that any accusations of illegal employment practices would be “thoroughly looked into”. “Those found operating unlawfully may face prosecution and/or removal from the sponsorship register,” it said. By law, care workers coming to the UK under the health and care visa route must be paid at least £20,960 per year.

Merit Healthcare Ltd, which is based in Swindon, Wiltshire, and rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, said it followed Home Office rules and denied any wrongdoing. It said hours and pay could fluctuate due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a client dying, which could explain why Mbare’s earnings were different to the figure stated in his contract.

The company denied its vehicle policies were unfair, and said it had changed its rules because drivers had been having accidents in company cars, increasing insurance premiums. It said Mbare had refused a “reasonable solution” to which other workers had agreed.

In relation to the claim, it withheld a reference, Merit says its policy was not to provide references if doing so could “negatively impact an applicant’s chances of securing employment elsewhere”. It denied charging recruitment fees to candidates (which are illegal in the UK) but said that “like any other business, any ad hoc costs related to the running of the business and, in particular, relocation to the UK can be passed on to a worker”. Documents seen by the Observer show Mbare was charged an admin fee of £2,500 to “prepare your paperwork” and “issue you the certificate [of sponsorship]”.

A spokesperson for Merit said Mbare’s story was a “partial account of true events” and the “real” issue was government underfunding of social care. “We dispute the claim that the work offered was different or not expected/foreseeable,” he said. Merit’s website says it provides quality care for clients and an “unbeatable package of benefits” for workers.


Source: The Observer

Guest article: Arrests in Indonesia, but organ trafficking continues.

According to The Diplomat, 12 people have been arrested as suspects in a transnational organ trafficking ring. The suspects include a police officer from Bekasi and a Balinese immigration officer, as well as nine former victims of organ trafficking. They are accused of luring as many as 122 Indonesian nationals to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where their kidneys were harvested for sale in Preah Ket Mealea Hospital. The immigration officer appears to have played a critical role in the organized crime, falsifying travel documents and receiving $200 per victim.

“The transnational trafficking group had been in operation since 2019 and had netted some $1.6 billion over the years, with each victim promised just $9,000 for a kidney.” – The Diplomat, according to Hengki Haryadi, the Jakarta police director for general crimes

Among the victims are teachers, executives, security guards, and factory workers who allegedly agreed to sell their kidneys in exchange for cash. According to the Jakarta police director for general crimes, they had lost their jobs during the pandemic and were desperate for money.

If convicted, the suspects can expect a maximum of 15 years in prison and a potential fine of up to $39,000. The immigration officer and the policeman are implicated in further charges related to the abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

Not an uncommon occurrence

Organ trafficking is not a rarity in the region. Poverty, a shortage of employment, and the need for money make many Indonesians vulnerable to exploitation, in addition to low literacy and access to education. Criminals lure victims into thinking they will work abroad with tempting salaries and promises to pay for their travel and passport costs. However, upon arrival, many realize they must repay this debt. Then, their organs are taken and sold if they don’t work hard enough.

Furthermore, the geographical location of Indonesia and its weak borders exacerbate the problem. Victims are also often trafficked for forced labor or debt bondage from Indonesia to other Asian countries or the Middle East.

Lack of legislation and implementation

The World Health Organization (WHO) has prohibited paid organ donation since 1987. Indonesia is among the countries that outlaw the practice in their local legislation. They signed the Palermo Convention and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which was signed into local law in 2009. In addition, the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, makes the country bound to the regional agreement since 2015.

In comparison to paid organ donation, voluntary organ donation is legal for anyone above the age of 18 who has permission from their doctor and family. Due to a lack of legislation, a persisting problem is the blurred lines between legal donation and illegal sale. This fuels the illegal organ trade. Furthermore, victims may also face criminal sanctions, preventing them from coming forward.

Source: Freedom United

Survivor Story: Safe and home at last.

Ann * is a single mother of two beautiful teen girls -Milka and Nelly*. Ann is a graduate in banking, she was working as a clear in one of the best banks in Kenya. In 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a massive lay off of workers, unfortunately this axe fell on Ann as well. She lost her job. In order to survive, Ann engaged herself in manual jobs to fend for her kids. However, this was hardly enough to meet her needs. Pressed with the tough economic situation, she met a friend who told her about opportunities abroad.

At first, Ann was skeptical because of the stories she had heard of the harassment and mistreatment of Kenyan ladies who got greener pastures in the gulf region. She later agreed to the offer of going to work in Lebanon. Since Lebanon is a mix of both Christians and Muslims, she was convinced and hopeful that things would be better.

In October 20, 2021, Ann started the process and she was recruited with the help of a recruiting agency and she went for domestic work training which took three months as the agent was processing her documentation.

Eventually, Ann found herself in Saudi Arabia travelling through Dubai on February 27, 2022 and not in Lebanon as she had initially thought. However, it was too late to go back. On getting to the airport, Ann was transported to the agency office, where her receiver picked her up and transported her to the would-be employer.

On reaching the house, Ann was welcomed by the boss's daughter. The daughter informed her that her mother, who was to be her boss, had been admitted to hospital even though she later returned home after 3 weeks upon discharge.

During the first month, Ann was treated well. She was allowed to keep her documents and phone. After the first month, all hell broke loose. Ann was denied food and was overworked. She was forced to work for more than twelve hours and she could only sleep when her boss was asleep. Ann opted to call her agency to ask for a transfer to a different employer. After a week, the agency spoke with her employer who promised to change her ways but this only last for 3 months.

After six months, the employer confiscated her phone and all her personal documents. At this point, the employer denied Ann food. ‘I could go for 72 hours without food, ’Ann says. The employer threatened to kill her so many times and also physically assaulted her, that left many visible scars on Ann’s body.

At one point, Ann was beaten until she collapsed. When she woke up, there was nobody in the house and the gate was wide open, so she escaped. Unfortunately, even before she could go far, police vehicles surrounded her and she was forcefully taken back to the same house. At this point, the employer burned her with a metal box. She displays the burning scar on her hand with great regret; “I wish I had listened to a number of people who had advised me against going to the Gulf countries”.

On one eventful day and due to exhaustion, starvation and long working hours, Ann collapsed while she was working. The employer fearing for the worst, took her to hospital and abandoned her there. When she got better and through the help of the hospital staff, Ann reached out to the police who contacted her agency. The police promised to ensure that Ann would get paid for the one year she had worked without pay. This however, never happened.

The law enforcers worked together with her agency and in August, Ann was deported to Kenya with nothing except the clothes she had on herself. In as much as she didn’t bring anything back home Ann says she is happy and glad that she is back home.

*Ann is not her real name

World Day Against Human Trafficking 2023.

R-L Cabinet Secretary, Florence Bore and Permanent Secretary, Joseph Motari launching the National Plan of Action in Combatting Trafficking In Persons; 2022-2027

The annual World Day Against Human Trafficking (30th July) is globally commemorated to raise awareness and share new developments about Trafficking in Persons and support to the victims/survivors. This year’s theme was, ‘Reach out to every Victim, Leave No One behind’. In Kenya, the event was held on 28th July at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi. The event was punctuated with speeches and survivor voices were amplified in the presence of a huge audience led by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and representatives from the UN Agencies led by the UNODC, IOM/UN Migration, and Civil Society Organisations (both national and international) among others to mark the event.

The event was graced by Hon. Florence Bore, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Labour and Social Protection who was the chief guest assisted by the Principal Secretary (PS), Mr. Joseph Motari;,among other dignitaries.

On the day’s program, there were other stakeholder representatives who made their speeches highlighting the need for Civil Society to coordinate their efforts and work together towards combating human trafficking and developing victim-centered programs to support the Victims and survivors. Most speeches also emphasized on the need for victims and survivors to embrace psychosocial support and appeals for the society to accept the survivors for complete reintegration.

One of the survivors, a returnee from Lebanon, Ms. Mercy Njeru who was representing the survivors made a presentation and encouraged the government and other stakeholders to invest more in the National Assistance Fund to assist more victims, offer them psychosocial support and also further urged the government to ensure the service providers at the Kenyan embassies in the gulf region are well trained and equipped to support the victims of trafficking in distress when they visit their offices

L-R Sr Florence, Member of Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) Advisory Committee and Board member at CHTEA, PS Motari, CS Bore, Ms Veronica -Chair, CTIP Advisory Committee and other CTIP Advisory committee members posing for a group photo during the WDAHT, 2023 Commemoration at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi.

The Cabinet Secretary delivered her speech which emphasized on the significance of the day. She highlighted Kenya's commitment to combating trafficking in persons and further noted that Kenya had been identified as a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking. She noted that the country was affected by trafficking in persons; with labor and sexual exploitation being the most prevalent forms. She also mentioned that the government had taken several measures to address the vice such as ratifying the UN Palermo Protocol and establishing the Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee and the National Assistance Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking. On his part, Mr Joseph Motari, the Principal Secretary stressed the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to tackle trafficking while focusing on prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships. The State Department for Labor and Social Protection later launched the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons; 2022-2027, which outlines strategies for comprehensive victim-centered support. After the launch, the CS held a press briefing and everyone walked to the market place where CSOs got an opportunity to showcase their activities, efforts and projects in combating Human Trafficking to the attendees.

On her part, while marking the WDAHT, CHTEA in collaboration with the media carried out several interviews as build up activities highlighting the challenges faced by victims/survivors and to make a call to the government and relevant stakeholders to have victim-centered and inclusive programs to support them.

Here are the interviews conducted, click the links to view.

  1. Kenya's Pastor 'miracle baby' acquitted - also features CHTEA interview with Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) Media
  2. Stop Human Trafficking - also features CHTEA interview with Voice Of America

In line with creating awareness on Human Trafficking and highlighting changes in eliminating modern slavery, Mr Mutuku, CEO Counter Human Trafficking Trust was interviewed by People Daily and this what his contribution was in regards to breaking taboo around human trafficking crime..


Survivor Story : Greener pastures turned dry.

Everyone wishes for a good life for their family and children and when an opportunity for greener pasture comes about, we all run quick for it. This was the case with Mary (not her real name).

Mary is a single mother of four boys aged 16, 12, 9 and 6 years, living with her grandmother but was facing a lot of challenges, she had lost her job and the occasional ‘mama fua’ jobs were not enough to cater for her daily needs. She sought advice from her aunt who introduced her to a recruiting agent. She travelled with the aunt from her rural home to Nairobi to meet the agent and then she went for a two weeks’ training at Githurai. The agent assisted her to get travel documents and in no time she was ready to travel to Saudi Arabia.

When Mary arrived in Saudi Arabia, she was received by her employer at the airport and she was taken to the residence where she was employed as a domestic worker. The family consisted of five members including three sons of the employer. She was introduced to the family and later given instructions to abide by. After one month, the employer who was the lady travelled unexpectedly.

Mary was left alone with the three sons of the man of the house who started harassing her sexually. “I was sexually assaulted and physically abused by the three men for a period of nine months. At one point, I was seriously beaten up and left for the dead for not giving in to their demands. I could not even pick myself up from where they had left lying for five days,” lamented Mary.

When the men realised that she could not to stand still by herself, they decided to throw her out of the house, a far distance from the gate. Mary was later picked up from the roadside by a good Samaritan who helped her get to nearest Red Cross office. The Red Cross took her to their shelter where she found other girls who had been rescued too. She stayed there for two months before she was later escorted to the airport alongside 6 other Kenyan girls. Mary says she that could not even tell who paid for her ticket but happy that it was by God’s grace that she was rescued. Mary and the other 6 girls were given some little money to use for their onward transport costs home after arriving in Kenya.

When Mary arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, she took a bus to Thika and upon arrival, she lost her consciousness and was rushed to Thika level 5 hospital. Mary was admitted at the hospital for one month and she was later discharged.

CHTEA supported Mary with medical support and psycho-social support since she had suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and due to the extreme physical abuse that she got in Saudi Arabia. Mary sustained a broken limb. CHTEA also supported her to start up her hair dressing business (salon) since she was already a skilled hairdresser.

We are happy through the economic empowerment program; Mary can now financially support her children and her family at large.

Stigma: The Case of rejection.

‘It was not easy, starting all over again. It was not easy then, but I have overcome things like that. All is not well, but I am proud of the progress I have made and knowing I can support my son.’

Prisca * starts her day at 4am every day. She prepares her children for school and herself for the day. At 4.30am, she is picked up by her driver of public transport in Nairobi (“matatu” – mini bus). She starts calling people to board the matatu from South B to Nairobi town. She gets to town and joins the other matatus waiting in line to take passengers back to South B. This goes on until 11pm at night when she goes to rest and prepare for the following day.

Before Prisca became a matatu tout, she was determined to leave the country for the gulf countries to seek for greener pastures. She met an ‘agent’ through her aunt who promised to help her get a well-paying administrator job in Saudi Arabia. She didn’t have any travel documents but the agent assisted her get her passport and visa and in less than 2 weeks. She was ready to travel. It was the first time for Prisca to travel by an aeroplane. She arrived late at the airport which angered the agent, who threw the documents at her and drove off. An airport attendant seeing her in despair, guided her through the airport process. She boarded the plane and was finally in Saudi Arabia. She was picked up by her employer at the airport. Before leaving the airport, she had to go through medical tests and the same tests were repeated at her employer’s place. Working in Saudi for her was a real challenge as she worked for long working hours with little or no food for days. She was physically and verbally abused. Amidst all this, Prisca was able to save some money ‘under her mattress’ since was told that the banking policy in Saudi Arabia did not support opening a bank account for foreigners.

After working for 2 years, Prisca couldn’t take the harassment any more. Seeing her life in danger, she escaped and went to the Kenyan embassy who helped her get a ticket for her trip back to Kenya. On arrival at the airport, none of her family members came to pick her up. Upon arriving home, no one was happy to see her back. Her siblings and parents were angry at her and kept asking her why she had come back empty handed. The whole neighborhood resented her. This adversely affected her psychologically especially after realizing that the people who are supposed to be her safe space were rejecting her.

Sadly, this is what most victims of trafficking in persons go through when they are confronted by a hostile environment. The societal stigma makes reintegration with family a tricky issue. Survivors continue to suffer from trauma of being disowned by their family and society for failing to return with the promised life changing fortunes (some of it meant to refund borrowed funds). This in the end makes them vulnerable of re-trafficking.

In most cases, families of the victims of human trafficking have no or limited knowledge about human trafficking and the risks abound. This therefore makes it difficult for them to understand the victims’ challenges. Victims go through many challenges in the hands of their former employers such starvation, long working hours, verbal, physical and sexual assault, murder threats and at the end of the month their salary is not paid.

While dealing with victims of human trafficking, the least they need is our collective support so that they can feel valued and loved by their closest kin. Their safe spaces including their families are of cardinal importance if long term healing is to take place. Access to psychosocial support, economic empowerment and medical care (if need be) is of essence. So, the next time someone comes back to the country while in distress, do not despise them, but instead be empathetic with them, be ready to support them. They are humans too, let us join hands to restore and preserve their dignity.

Shelter: Safe haven or prison?


One of the first steps to be taken by victims wishing to escape from the control of traffickers is to find a safe and secure refuge. Despite the prospect of continued abuse, many victims choose to stay because leaving can attract more danger and greater vulnerability. The lack of a safe and secure refuge often results in the victims’ return to their abusers after an initial escape, because of the fear of violence and the intimidation they are subjected to. It is therefore critical that real and practical options for their safety and security (in both the short and long term and in both the country of destination and that of origin) are made available to victims of trafficking.

Shelter homes are a form of protection and a most common form of emergency assistance available to trafficked persons in Kenya and many other countries. Shelter homes offer a safe and protected environment for Victims of Trafficking (VoT) in which they can begin their recovery and access a range of services such as accommodation, legal, medical, and psychosocial aid in a one stop shop fashion.

Types of Shelters

VoTs have short term and long term needs for a safe shelter. The nature of the shelter they need varies from one type to another. Some shelters offer comprehensive care services starting with supporting rescue efforts to reintegrating survivors. Shelters are classified in the following categories:

  1. Immediate, safe and short-term shelter

This type of shelter offers the victim a protected and secure environment for a short period of time. In these shelters, the victim is protected from harm from the trafficker and has access to immediate short-term assistance, this may include, medical, attention, legal information, psychosocial support.

  1. Temporary Shelter

Shelters in the state to which the victims are returning will often need to provide some support to facilitate the rehabilitation process and the victims’ reintegration in their families or communities. Without the protection of the shelter and the interim assistance it can provide, victims may be at risk of further harassment, or revictimization.

  1. Transitional Shelters

These types of shelters provide accommodation where victims can stay without fear of unwanted interference for a period of time while they recover from their ordeals and find some new direction for their lives. The essential elements of these shelters are a supportive environment, the provision of information about available services and access to community facilities and services. When victims are not faced with imminent deportation or repatriation, less institutionalized forms of shelter may be appropriate.

Staying at the Shelter in harmony: The CHTEA Experience

Every month, the CHTEA Transit Survivor Support Centre (Shelter) admits VoTs from different countries and walks with them until they are reintegrated back into their communities or until they repatriated back to their countries of origin.

At the shelter, CHTEA offers comprehensive care services that include but are not limited to accommodation, psycho-social support, medical care, family tracing and reintegration. Hosting VoTs has its own challenges as well, because sometimes foreign nationals may experience culture shock with respect to language barrier, food choices and the lengthy legal process to repatriate them among other challenges. Amidst all these challenges however, CHTEA supports the victims to the furthest possible ends while ensuring their safe return and reunion with their families.

The CHTEA experience in shelter management and supporting of VoTs/ survivors of human trafficking has come with a lot of lesson learning. This experience has provided a perfect opportunity for smooth and seamless repatriation process where survivors are encouraged to be patient with the procedures of case management. The Centre has some basic rules and regulations meant to govern the residential stay environment. Survivors sign against these guidelines as a commitment to fully cooperate with the shelter management and other survivors.  All potential shelter beneficiaries are normally processed from the office before they are moved to the shelter. At the office, they are screened and their needs identified and a dummy file presented at the shelter for further action/follow up.

As for CHTEA, it is paramount to be well informed about the survivors before admission and have a clear guideline and schedule of activities or routine for the survivors while at the shelter.

CHTEA also ensures the safety of the survivors as well as the staff. The staff are well trained in order to carry out their duties both efficiently and effectively; a skill which makes the survivors feel safe and protected as they wait to be reintegrated or repatriated.

Survivor Stories : Trapped by a false employment opportunity abroad.

Lali* is a 19-year-old young lady of Ugandan origin, the last born in a family of seven, she comes from a family where the mother is a widow and not financially stable. The mum could not support her schooling, she therefore dropped out of school while in form 2. Lali* always wished for an opportunity to get out of her country of origin for work to be able to support her family. Not long after, a friend called Peter * came visiting at her town of Mbale, Uganda in search of land to buy. The friend then met Lali* and shared with her about the lucrative and well-paying cleaner job in Nairobi, Kenya. This was a dream come true for Lali*. To add icing to the cake, the person would cater for her transport to get her from Mbale in Uganda to Nairobi.

On her way to Nairobi, Lali* was in the company of her 2-year-old niece, Blessing*. Lali* narrates that she did not have any travel documents, once they got to the border, they were advised to alight and cross the border on foot. Lali* obliged and her journey continued until she was in Nairobi. Once in Nairobi, Peter*, came to pick her up. Lali* was later taken to a place she would call home. She stayed with Peter* for 2 days and enquired about the job that she had been promised. To Lali’s* disbelief, there was no cleaner job that she would be posted to. Instead, she was to remain in the house and help with the house chores. Lali* says Peter* had told her he had a large 2-bedroom house, where they could both fit, she was shocked to find out that the house was a small tin-made single room in which she was expected to share with Peter * and her 2-year-old niece.

After staying for one week, Lali* could not take it anymore and she insisted to get the job she had been promised, but Peter* told her point blank that there was no job. That he had taken her in to be his wife instead. That is when Lali’s* problems started, she tried to resist this, but she realized that her life was in danger. If she refused to act according to Peter’s* orders, she would be mistreated or even handed over to police with concocted charges as an irregular migrant.

Lali* persevered staying with Peter* for 3 months during which period, she was denied medical treatment, denied food, raped, insulted, physically assaulted and her life threatened. On one occasion, Lali* was physically assaulted and was badly hurt. The incident raised a concern from neighbors regarding Lali’s* life. They came to her rescue and reported the case to the local chief who linked them up with a social justice center, which ensured Lali* was moved to a safer accommodation.

After her rescue and case assessment, Lali* was later transferred to a safe shelter, where she got medical help, psychosocial support, and accommodation. CHTEA, in partnership with the Ugandan Embassy in Kenya and the Religious Against Human Trafficking network we successfully helped Lali* reunite with her family back in Uganda and gave her a chance to fulfill her dream of going back to school.


Children voices in Human Trafficking.

Every year, the world commemorates World Day Against Human Trafficking (WDAHT). This day is set aside to raise awareness about human trafficking and to promote and protect the rights of trafficking victims. We can specify trafficking in three elements:  the act, the means and the purpose. What is done, how it’s done and why it’s done.

Traffickers deceive, coerce, threaten, abuse power and use force — the means and methods — to recruit, move, receive, shelter and maintain control of their victims, for the express purpose of exploiting them.

Exploitation includes, but is not limited to, the prostitution of others for sex, forced Labor or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude, or the removal of organs. Sex trafficking and forced Labor are the most notorious types of trafficking, but trafficking has other forms as well. Victims are also trafficked and exploited for benefit, fraud, as beggars, for forced or sham marriages, in pornography production and for organ removal. These other forms of trafficking are under-reported, do not receive as much public attention and contribute to the widely-held perception "trafficking doesn’t happen where I live."

Sadly, human trafficking is a global crisis. Trafficking in persons affects nearly every country in the world; no country is immune. The victims of trafficking are building our homes, cleaning our houses, processing our food and making our clothes. They are in our lives.

Amidst all this, sometimes children are forgotten. Child trafficking has become rampant and is not talked about most of the time. Most of these children are trafficked and exploited for begging, cheap labor, transporting of illegal merchandise, for pornography or forced child marriages.

In most cases, the perpetrators are well known by the guardians/parents/families of the children. The traffickers mostly approach families who are poor, are struggling financially to support their children. They convince the parents to give them their children, promising they will take them to school and give them a good life. Sadly, once the kids have been taken way, they are mistreated instead by the perpetrators for child labor, sexual abuse, prostitution among others.

By the virtue of the fact that the victims are children, they cannot give consent to anything and are therefore vulnerable to abuse. They are also naïve to report any of these incidents or they don’t even know where to report these cases because they are far away from home. Sometimes they are afraid of reporting the cases because this would mean thorough punishment which takes different forms such as thorough beating, starvation and harsh traumatizing treatments by the perpetrators.

The WDAHT, 2023 was commemorated on July 28th with theme; “Reach out to every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind”. CHTEA in partnership with Forum for Women, Candle of Hope Organization, Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat and the Nairobi County Children Services’ department convened a stakeholder County forum at the Kamukunji Sub-County on 21st July 2023 at the California Digital Center, Eastleigh. This was a build-up activity to highlight the issue of child trafficking. The project aimed at bringing together migrants, victims of trafficking and the government agencies and non-state stakeholders to provide a platform to share their experiences, challenges and way forward in building a lasting solution for them.