The escalating human trafficking menace across the Horn of Africa region should be tackled as a matter of urgency to avert social turmoil and instability, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement during World Day Against Trafficking of Persons.
The IOM said human trafficking in the East and Horn of Africa region has taken a worrying dimension, with a majority of victims exposed to violence, sexual abuse and forced labour. It said criminal syndicates have exploited poverty, social breakdown, political instability, lax policing at porous borders to traffic men, women, boys, girls and minors from the region to foreign destinations, for cheap labour.
“Most of the vulnerable communities in East and Horn of Africa at risk of human trafficking have little awareness and capacity to identify trafficking situations and how to avoid falling victim into the trap of traffickers,” Mohammed Abdiker, IOM regional director for East and Horn of Africa said.
Mr Abdiker stressed the need for governments to work closely with communities to raise awareness of human trafficking besides coming up with grassroots-based interventions to curb the vice.
The theme of 2022 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons “Prevent, Protect and Prosecute”, will serve as a rallying call for governments, multilateral agencies and campaigners to come up with robust measures to respond to the growing menace in the Horn of Africa, the IOM said.
In addition, a holistic approach focusing on prevention, rehabilitation of victims and speedy prosecution of offenders was paramount to tame the transnational crime in a region grappling with multiple crises, IOM says.
Between 2019 and 2021, IOM provided targeted interventions to about 3,000 victims of trafficking in the Horn of Africa region including shelter, medical services and psychosocial support.
Other interventions from IOM and partners include tracing of victims’ families, return and reintegration besides providing special care to trafficked minors alongside survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
At present, IOM is advocating for the enactment of new laws and policies, enhanced data collection, timely assistance to victims, heightened vigilance and cross-border collaboration to eradicate human trafficking in the Horn of Africa.