The UN Migration Agency (IOM) has organized a first regional forum bringing together counter trafficking government officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to foster regional cooperation and improve the identification, referral and reintegration of victims of trafficking in the region.
The two-day forum, which began yesterday in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, is part of the multi-year program: “Combating Human Trafficking in Persons” (CTIP), funded by USAID and implemented by IOM.
According to the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2018, Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for women, men and children subjected to forced labor and sexual exploitation. IOM has observed a steady increase in the number of young female trafficking victims arriving to Afghanistan from neighboring countries.
Victims are often given away by poor families or kidnapped. Traffickers often subject their victims to coercion, violence and emotional abuse. Once abroad, traffickers usually confiscate their victims’ travel documents, making trans-border cooperation essential in order to rescue them.
Participants at the Dushanbe forum include government officials responsible for combatting human trafficking and representatives of a recently formed regional network of counter trafficking NGOs.
Afghanistan is one of the countries in the region that is ramping up its counter trafficking efforts. “By passing a new trafficking law, finalizing a national referral mechanism and developing a trafficking-specific online database, we have created a good foundation to respond to trafficking in a more comprehensive way,” said Afghan Justice Minister and Chair of TIP High Commission Dr. Abdul Basir Anwar. “We feel responsible toward our citizens and want to protect them from human trafficking and smuggling. I would like to thank our international partners, especially the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and our neighboring countries, particularly the Republic of Tajikistan, for their contribution in combating Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants.”
“Trafficking in persons is a serious concern in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries. Promoting regional cooperation to help the Afghan government to effectively implement the new law to combat the trafficking and smuggling of people is the key purpose of this forum,” said IOM Afghanistan's Senior Programme Coordinator Sarah Craggs.
Read more about IOM’s counter trafficking work in Afghanistan at: https://afghanistan.iom.int/
With almost $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country’s private sector, to establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and to provide basic health and education services for all Afghans. https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan
The International Organization for Migration works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration for the benefit of all, to promote international co-operation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need. IOM currently implements a range of humanitarian assistance, community stabilization and migration management initiatives in Afghanistan, in cooperation with government and humanitarian partners, as well as local communities.