Cross-Regional Dialogue for Champion Countries of the Global Compact for Safe

Dear Participants, dear colleagues

We hope this message finds you well. On behalf of the Regional UN Network on Migration in West and Central Africa and the Government of Ghana in the framework of the GCM Champion countries initiative, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude for your active participation in the Informal Cross-Regional Dialogue for Champion Countries of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) held in Accra, Ghana from 28 to 30 November.

This dialogue served as a follow-up to the regional dialogues that took place in Rabat and Nairobi, and it provided a valuable opportunity to build upon the recommendations and insights gathered from both events. Your presence and valuable contributions throughout the three-day dialogue were instrumental in shaping the discussions and outcomes of the event.

We greatly appreciate your commitment and dedication to the topic of safe migration and mobility, and your willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue with fellow participants. Your expertise and perspectives enriched the discussions and helped us to identify key challenges and opportunities in the context of safe, orderly, and regular migration. As promised, we are sharing the recommendations from the informal dialogue in five languages, including English, Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. They are found here: Recommendations. These recommendations reflect the collective wisdom and insights shared during the event and will serve as a valuable resource moving forward. Furthermore, we kindly request that you review the attached recommendations and share any edits or comments you may have by Thursday the 28th of December. Your valuable input will help us refine and improve the recommendations before finalizing them for wider dissemination and implementation.

Additionally, we have also included a link to a SharePoint platform: Home where you will find all the important relevant documents from the informal dialogue, including the press release, photos and video from the event. This platform will enable you to access and share these materials with ease.

Once again, we extend our heartfelt appreciation for your participation and contribution to the Informal Cross-Regional Dialogue for Champion Countries of the GCM. We are confident that the outcomes of this event will contribute significantly to the global efforts in promoting safe, orderly, and regular migration.

Should you have any further questions or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to staying connected and continuing our collective efforts to advance the goals of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

Cordially,

The Co-Organizers

Survivor Story: Saved by a whisker.

It is 8.00am in the morning, Elima greets her friend as she hurries to open her small cereal/Mpesa and Equity Bank Agent shop. She is excited about today and hopeful that it will be a successful day. On a day like this, Elima remembers vividly after completing her secondary school exams, she received a sponsorship to a university in Uganda, it went well and she graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Commerce. She was joyous about her graduation, being the first girl in a village to go to university and successfully complete a degree course. She saw herself working as an accountant in a reputable organization in the future.

Life with its endless ups and downs did not go as she expected. She landed her first job as an Mpesa agent (where one can deposit and withdraw cash). Sadly, every day the owner would come at lunchtime, close the shop and lock her inside where he would sexually and physically assault her. She put up a lot of resistance and was very scared and hated him for the actions. She left after five months of absolute hell and she returned home. She found her mother supportive but she had no job after such a long struggle to gain her degree in a foreign country.

One day, a lady who was known by the family to trade between Kenya and Uganda told her of  wonderful job opportunities in Uganda. She claimed that she knew a certain hotel owner in Kampala who needed an accounts clerk. Elima fell for such a ‘golden chance’ and had no problem in agreeing to travel to Uganda. But she found herself as one of the ten girls who covered in a bar-restaurant 24/7. The hotel was also a major attraction for men who wanted ladies for sex services at any hour of the day or night. Elima and the other girls, were issued with contraceptives every morning. Elima says, “I was in this horrible, horrible place for 6 months, the only food they gave us was one meal daily.” At this stage she was in tears and her eyes were red.

One Morning, just days before Christmas in 2022, a man from her home area visited the eatery and on seeing her, he exclaimed, “My God, Elima, what are you doing here?” It was easily assumed that he was her client. But he had come in to have breakfast. After a brief conversation, he gave her his car keys and told her the registration of his vehicle and where to find it in the parking lot. In a matter of hours, they were crossing the international border into Kenya. He never harmed her in any way and he dropped her at her parents’ home. Since she had returned without any money, she coined a story that she had been robbed on the way back home. The parents accepted her story.

In early January, 2023, she travelled to Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Nairobi (where her aunt works with the MMM’s). while there, she met one of the CHTEA Trainer of Trainers (ToTs) doing an Awareness workshop and he referred her to CHTEA.

Elima had good ideas about starting a small business but she lacked capital. While at CHTEA, Sr.Mary recalls that, “I felt she was genuine and took a chance to offer her with a budgetary amount of Ksh.15000/-. Ordinarily, some of the victims of trafficking come with various needs such as medical and counselling which require much more money.” From the small capital offered, Elima has now a thriving business of retailing eggs from her home location and she also sells a variety of dried beans as well as an Mpesa and Equity Bank agent business.

*Elima is not her name

Five Kenyans stuck in Malaysia.

Introduction

The high cost of living coupled with high inflation and together with the high rate of unemployment, has pushed many young people to leave the country seeking ‘greener pastures’ as a way to financially support their family members.  Most times ‘green pastures’ are not so green as they are assumed to be. Many young Kenyan men and women find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.  Sadly, when they go abroad through agents, they are most often rogues/criminal syndicates who promise them endless perks and opportunities once they arrive at the destination countries.

Tragedy in a foreign land

Sadly, this was the case for five Kenyans- Four gentlemen and one lady-  who travelled to Malaysia to work as office assistants/receptionists in early January, 2023 through the Bemoliz and Talent Quest Africa agencies. They were promised good paying jobs with a salary Ksh. 60,000/- (equivalent to USD 460) per month, working for eight hours daily. Upon arrival in Malaysia, things were not as they expected. Instead they worked for twelve hours a day at J&T cargo, with no food and no payment for four months. Their living conditions were unbearable, they used to sleep on waste cartons on a cold floor and they begged for food from well-wishers.

Upon asking for their salary, they were met with a rude shock and dumbfounded when their boss told them that he had bought them at Ksh. 160,000/ equivalent to USD 1.230 per person to get them to Malaysia. They were promised to get work permits in Malaysia on arrival, since they used travel visas to get to Malaysia.  However, it proved impossible for them to get any help from the authorities.

After endless hassle with the J & T cargo management concerning their salaries, they were chased away from the company with no pay. They ended up seeking for shelter in unfinished construction sites and begging for food to survive. They reached out to the Kenyan embassy in Malaysia for help who advised them to raise money for their air tickets back to Kenya. CHTEA in collaboration with other partners are working around the clock to get sponsors for their tickets. CHTEA is currently offering online counselling services to the victims.

Above: inhuman living conditions, cartons on cold floors serving as beddings (shared by victims)

Appeal for tickets

They shared their story with CHTEA during an exclusive interview. The news reached the Kenyan government who directed the embassy to take them to Kuala Lumpur where they have been staying for about two months as they continue to wait for tickets. Their families have not been able to raise the fees. They are humbly seeking for well-wishers for help them raise the overstay fees and air tickets to get back home.

Anyone willing to support with tickets, kindly get in touch with CHTEA through telephone number +254 701 339 204 or email info@chttrust-eastafrica.org

Alliance 8.7 Partners annual review meeting report.

Partners posing for a picture in the meeting.

On 4th October, Counter Human Trafficking Trust-East Africa (CHTEA) (represented by Ms Precious Musyoki) joined other civil society organisations Religious Against Human Trafficking [RAHT], Free the Slaves, the Salvation Army, Footprint of hope and Jafari Jata Solution in a meeting convened by Free The Slaves to review the Alliance 8.7 commitments.

The discussion on Alliance 8.7 revolved around evaluating the progress made in the past year towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 – eradicating forced labor, modern slavery, human trafficking, and child labor. Partners shared their respective initiatives and programs, emphasizing the need for increased coordination and innovative strategies.

Some of the key points discussed included:

  1. Sharing best practices in survivor rehabilitation and reintegration.
  2. Advantages of joining the alliance as a country or as an organization.
  3. Enhancing awareness campaigns to prevent trafficking and exploitation.

The 2nd agenda for the day was Survivor engagement, it took center stage, highlighting the importance of survivor voices in shaping effective anti-trafficking interventions. Partners shared their success stories and challenges faced in empowering survivors. The key highlights included:

  1. Providing comprehensive support services, including counseling, education, and skills’ development.
  2. Ensuring survivor data confidentiality and security.
    Partners during discussions at the meeting

Later on, partners presented their annual reports, detailing their achievements, challenges, and future plans. The reports highlighted:

  1. An increase in number of rescued victims and successful prosecutions.
  2. Challenges faced, such as limited financial and human resources and the evolving nature of human trafficking methods.
  3. The need for collaborative efforts with local authorities, NGOs, and international organizations.

The meeting was then concluded with a brainstorming session to outline actionable steps based on the discussions. The following were agreed upon:

  1. Forming of task forces to focus on specific aspects of Alliance 8.7 goals to ensure targeted efforts.
  2. Establishing a survivor-led advisory programs and policies.
  3. Organizing joint training sessions for law enforcement officers, social workers, and legal professionals to enhance their skills and knowledge on Trafficking In Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.
  4. Expressed the need for framework to avoid double-recording of the survivors in different organizations to achieve optimal use of the limited resources.

The meeting concluded on a positive note, with partners expressing their commitment to intensify efforts in the following year. The exchange of ideas and experiences during the meeting reinforced the importance of collaboration in addressing the multifaceted issue of trafficking and exploitation. The next meeting was scheduled for November where the dates will be communicated on a later date.

Kenya Launches GCM implementation Plan for Better Migration Governance.

Above left to right: Ms Sharon (IOM Kenya), EU Delegation Representative, Ms. Pope (DG of IOM),Government of Kenya representative, Ms Evelyn (DG, Migration) and Mr Stephen (UN Coordinator) during the launch

On 13th October 2023, the Government of Kenya renewed its commitment to better migration management by launching its implementation plan for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). In doing so, Kenya become the first country in the world to develop a GCM implementation plan using guidance developed by the UN Network on Migration.

Crowning the occasion was the new Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Coordinator of the Network, Ms. Amy Pope, alongside government officials, UN representatives and civil society organizations. CHTEA was also represented at the launch by the CEO.

"If we are truly to confront the challenges of the day and certainly the challenges of tomorrow, it is critical that we bring together well-managed migration policies," said Ms. Pope.

“The Global Compact for Migration gives us a roadmap to make migration work and Kenya is the first country to turn it into a national implementation plan and to do so, working with the UN Network on Migration," said Ms. Pope.

Kenya’s 2023-2027 National GCM Implementation Plan translates commitments into action by highlighting key actions to fast track realizing the GCM in the country. It encompasses five thematic areas: promoting fact-based and data-driven policy and planning; addressing the drivers of migration; facilitating regular migration, decent work, and enhancing the positive development effects of human mobility; addressing irregular migration and, improving the social inclusion and integration of migrants.

"The Government of Kenya is taking bold steps towards a sustainable future, one that embraces the opportunities and challenges of migration," said Ambassador Julius Bitok, Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizens Services, in a video recorded for the launch.

“The National Implementation Plan reflects Kenya’s commitments to making migration more safe, orderly and regular. One key challenge is the lack of a framework for comprehensive migration governance at the national level. This Plan aims to mainstream migration into national development planning, aligning it with national, regional and global aspirations."

The UN Network on Migration was established to help Member States implement the GCM and promote partnerships towards achieving the Compact’s goals. To this end, the Network developed a six-step guidance to help governments and other stakeholders elaborate their own national strategies.

“This implementation plan is not merely a document; it is a beacon, aiming to maximize the development contributions of and with migrants,” said Dr. Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya.

"It represents a comprehensive approach to migration, encapsulating a wide array of GCM interventions that mirror the diverse nature of Kenya's migration context," he added.

As a GCM Champion country and the first to practically apply the Network’s guidance in preparing a validated National GCM Implementation Plan, Kenya is leading the way in implementing the Compact. This support was made possible with assistance from the Building Migration Partnerships programme, funded by the European Union.

Source: UN Migration Network

 

 

 

Guest Article: Escape from slavery in Dubai.

Junaid Ansari, is a 50-year-old father from Uttar Pradesh, India. Like many, he was a carpet weaver in his village, trying to provide for his family. But the meager income was not enough for. Junaid, like millions of others, he was forced to look abroad for work.

In December 2021, a local agent promised him a job as a house helper in Dubai. He was promised a monthly wage of 1400 Dirhams ($380.00 USD), food, accommodations, and kind employers. But the reality was a far cry from this. Instead of a comfortable home, Junaid was sent to a perfume factory where he was forced to work for 12 hours each day under abusive conditions.

Sadly, Junaid’s story is far too common. West India is one of the largest migration corridors globally, with an estimated 9 million Indian migrants working in the Persian Gulf region. While some find fair employment, countless others fall victim to hazardous labor conditions, exploitation, and labor trafficking, with no safety net, social security, or labor rights.

Junaid bravely shared, "The only reason why I was able to pressure the agent to arrange my journey back to India was the knowledge I gained from the Free the Slaves events..." 

Since December of 2020, Free the Slaves and MSEMVS have been at the forefront of protecting migrant workers in India through our “Safe Migration to the Gulf Countries” initiative. We’ve created a safe migration handbook, conducted trainings, and built an awareness network to ensure people migrating to Gulf countries stay safe and remain free. 

Through our initiative, we have reached over 7,000 individuals. To ensure our work is sustainable we have trained village heads to take on the responsibility of spreading awareness, while the volunteer community groups maintain migration registration systems, track cases, and keep their communities informed.

The second phase of this project is active now, focusing on eliminating unlawful and excessive recruitment fees levied by recruiting brokers. We aim to educate migrant workers and recruiters alike about these abuses and how they can prevent them.

Source: Free The Slaves

September in brief.

Above: Counter Human Trafficking-East Africa represented by Mr Mutuku Nguli, (seated second right at front row during a group photo) on 22nd September 2023 while attending a reflection workshop on Climate Change and Peacebuilding. It was held at a Nairobi hotel

Above: Ms. Mary Mugo (a member of the Religious Against Human Trafficking), in a hearty laugh after meeting Pope Francis mid-September while attending a Talitha Kum meeting in Rome

Above: A team from Tanzania posing for a group photo after finalizing a 2 days’ training which was held at the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Faraja Centre, Tanzania. The training was conducted by Mr Ahmed Mwidad from the Government Secretariat of Anti Human Trafficking under the ministry of Home Affairs. The Faraja Center-human trafficking programme was initiated by CHTEA in 2018 and has been used as a model in Tanzania.

Survivor story: Annette*

Annette is a mother of 3, separated with her two previous husbands. She is an Information Technology graduate and was working in clearing and forwarding sector at the Mombasa port. She met a recruitment agent while in Mombasa in the course of her work, after separating with her second husband in 2010. Before relocating to Mombasa, Annette had been living with her mother in Nyeri where life had become quite challenging since she had no job and yet she had a family to feed.

She recalls that the recruitment agent had promised her a lucrative opportunity in Qatar. In December 2010, Annette she was asked to go for a medical examination (chest and pregnancy). On arrival at the designated medical facility, she only did the pregnancy test and was asked not to worry about the chest X-ray. The agent told her that the results had already been sent to her would-be employer and that in any case, she looked healthy, according to him. The following day, her travel documents were sent to her on email and she was asked to meet the agent at the KENCOM bus stage ready to proceed to the airport. To her shock, when she arrived at KENCOM stage, she met other six women yet she had all along believed that she was the only one. On arrival at JKIA, the seven they were all given brown envelopes and off they disappeared to the back end of the waiting lounge.

It was only when Annette opened her envelope (inside the waiting lounge) that she got to know that she wasn’t going to Qatar anymore but to Lebanon with one other from the group while the rest were destined for Saudi Arabia.

The group had a stop-over at Dubai where they connected their flight to Beirut. While at the waiting area in Dubai, Annette says, “I met other Kenyan women at the Dubai international airport who were enroute back to Nairobi from Lebanon. They looked worn out and emaciated. Seeing them like that, it gave me jitters, it made her scared.”  Later on, they flew to Beirut where they would meet their sponsors and would-be employers. They picked her up even as she kept asking where she was being taken to without a response. The sponsor eventually got annoyed and beat and locked her up in a room. She was later picked up and taken to the agent’s office in Lebanon. While at the office, her employer explained to her that he had paid a 2000USD to bring her to Lebanon to work as a house help at her sister’s house. Annette had no option but to agree to work for a salary of 200USD per month.

At her first house, the family couldn’t understand her due to language barrier which resulted to Annette getting physically assaulted by the lady of the house. Annette later learnt Arabic but things didn’t change hence, she asked to be taken back to the agent. The employer obliged and took her back at the agent’s office where she demanded to be taken back to Kenya but was told to pay the 2000USD for buying price. She stayed at the office for 3 months before getting her second employer. Her stint at the first house was rewarding since she got paid for all months worked. She was able to send some money back home to her mother.

While at the office Janet was denied food, locked up in the office alongside another Kenyan lady. She was eventually taken to a 2nd house. The house had an old couple who suffered from chronic illnesses. The boss at the second house was very arrogant towards her. He didn’t even tell her what her salary was to be. He told her that she didn’t have the mandate to ask how much she would be paid. Annette was badly mistreated (physically assaulted, denied food and worked for long hours). She worked here for 6 months, and tried to escape but was arrested and taken back. She reluctantly continued working as she plotted another escape. Through the help of an Egyptian mechanic, she was able to escape. The Egyptian man helped her get a temporary place to stay where she also got an opportunity to start working at a hotel as an illegal migrant, since she did not have her travel documents. She worked at the hotel for few a months before she was stopped on the claim an impending crackdown on illegal migrant workers. The job loss forced Annette to rely on part time jobs. She volunteered to work for the Kenyan consulate at Beirut at no pay hoping to meet the consular and plead for her freedom back home.

While volunteering at the Kenyan consulate, Annette was able to resolve cases and helped fellow Kenyan migrants and the Consulate as well. She was able to hold forums for the migrant workers to air out their challenges and help each other know how to navigate them. One of the many cases Janet was able to support was concerning the death of one Kenyan migrant worker who lost her life under unclear circumstances. She was able to investigate and found out that she had lost her life due to loss of blood following a procured abortion. It is through this case that Annette got an opportunity to meet the consulate who helped her get back to Kenya through deportation.

On arrival back in Kenya, Annette met her family members but she was heart-broken when she saw the condition of her son who looked unkempt and under fed. She even realized that the son was no longer going to school due to lack of school fees.

Annette got depressed and got into drugs and alcohol. She cut all contact with her mother and family. She recently reunited with her family but still struggles with where to start from. She now has two young kids. Her mother still resents her and she feels she like she is the cause of all her troubles. Annette has never received psychosocial support, yet she is in dire need of an IGA to support her family and her kids in high school.

Annette* - not her real name

 

Tips for promoting online safety for kids in schools.

Tips for Promoting Online Safety for kids in Schools.

Schools are under-way through third term in most East African countries, and soon, students will begin their end term/year national examinations.  In between the opening and closing, students will be accessing the internet for educational content and revision purposes. It is therefore important to understand how schools can ensure the students online safety while online.

Access to the internet opens doors to information that our children could not otherwise access in the analogue world. The internet provides access to educational content, including study notes and curriculum content. Further, a child has access to information such as the environment, wildlife, society and more. There are also a lot of entertainment videos for the children, including cartoons. All these contents will help a child grow being aware of his or her environment and the society. However, the internet is also home to other types of content including movies and TV shows, betting and casino, music, games, adult content, and more.

In other words, whereas the internet can open a world of possibilities for our children, without proper supervision and control, it can expose the young ones to dangers. In addition to websites, social media has fast gained traction among teenagers and young adults. The social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok provides an environment where children interact with other people, not only those known to them, but also strangers.

Dangers of the internet for Children

There are a wide of range of dangers that children are likely to face online, according to a cyber security company, Kaspersky. The top online threats for children are:

1) Cyberbullying - Globally, about 11.5% of children have been bullied online. Cyberbullying is an aggressive, threatening or intimidating activity conducted via electronic communication including email, social media posts and messages, SMSs, and more. In most cases, children are reluctant to admit that they are victims of cyberbullying.

2) Online predators - Children and adults share the same online space, more so in social media and game chatrooms. Online predators are adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual exploitation or other activities, including luring them with the intent to kidnap.

3) Exposure to inappropriate content - Inappropriate content includes sexually explicit content, violent and graphic content, age-inappropriate content, and downloading of pirated materials, including music and videos.

Ways in which schools may create safe learning environments.

Beyond the responsibility of schools to create safe environments on their physical property, they also have a responsibility to create safe online-learning environments. Supervision of children while using the devices alone is not enough, Schools must recognize, prioritize, and minimize students’ potential exposure to predators, inappropriate, and—sadly—other students causing harm by implementing best practices for online safety:

  1. Safeguard on school-issued devices and platforms- School administration must take necessary precautions to ensure school-distributed electronic devices are not exposing children to harmful material. School to turn on parental control before giving devices to children
  2. Education for parents – As a school administration at the very least, be very clear with parents and guardians what platforms and websites their kids will be using, provide them their children’s passwords, and direct them to resources they can use to have age-appropriate conversations with their kids at home about body safety, harms of adult content and digital citizenship among others.
  3. Teacher training- We’ve been hearing of teachers using social media platforms to engage students, when those platforms are known to be pedophile hunting grounds and rampant with child sex abuse material. As school administration ensure Teachers and educators are clear about protocols and procedures when a student is exposed to or even sharing pornography while completing school assignments, on the playground, or school bus and they have the support and training necessary to deal with these potential harms. Digital Safety should be required for all school personnel—and there are many fantastic resources school administrations can use and tailor for their community.
  4. Youth empowerment- In our increasingly tech-reliant education system, lessons around these issues should be required, prioritized, and ongoing. At a minimum, students should be well aware of school policies and expectations around devices (school-issued and personal) and Internet usage. Sooner, not later, is when students should be taught in age-appropriate ways about body safety, recognizing predatory behavior (in person and online), understanding the harms of pornography, and what to do if they’re exposed to it, being clear on the socio-emotional risks of “sexting”: sending sexually explicit photos of themselves, as well as the potential consequences-including criminal liability - of taking and/or sharing sexually explicit material or using it to bully, shame, or threaten someone (i.e. “revenge porn”), and most importantly what to do if they feel uncomfortable or threatened.

 

 

 

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.