IOM, partners brace up to end human trafficking

Stakeholders in a photo opps after the event at the Sierra Palms Hotel in Freetown

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

As they observed the World Day against Human Trafficking at the Sierra Palms Hotel, the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Government of Sierra Leone, USAID, UN Network on Migration and the Africa Regional Migration Program among other Government Agencies have expressed further commitment to end human trafficking.

The endeavour to end human trafficking in Sierra Leone was born out of the National Strategy to End Human Trafficking which was an outcome of the National Conference on Trafficking in Persons, held on February 28, 2022on the theme “Strengthening National Frameworks and stakeholders Networks to STOP Modern Slavery.”

The World Day against Trafficking in Persons (WDATIP) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 30th July 2013. It is a day set aside to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims and to promote and protect their rights. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a crime and grave human rights violation of enormous scale, which is prevalent in situation of vulnerability.

In his statement, Head of Office IOM Sierra Leone, Christos Christodoulides Human Trafficking is a crime but responses are falling short leaving many unprotected. He said the targeted are often the most vulnerable in society left behind by poverty, conflict, and climate related disasters. 

As the Chair of the UN Network on MIgration in Sierra Leone, Christodoulides maintained that it was a privileged to see stakeholders united here to celebrate the world day against human trafficking on the theme ‘Reach every victim of trafficking – Leave no one behind’. 

Human Trafficking is a global crime that impacts people of all ages, genders and nationalities. Human Trafficking is borderless, no country no region is spared.

On behalf of IOM, I want to congratulate the Ministry of Social Welfare in Sierra Leone for combating human trafficking and for the Executive Director of the Anti-trafficking Taskforce of the Republic of Sierra Leone and his team for leading anti-trafficking coordination across the country.

The government of the Republic of Sierra Leone took an important decision in establishing the ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND MIGRANT SMUGGLING ACT of 2022.

The Head of IOM said his organization takes a comprehensive approach to addressing human trafficking, based on the 4P paradigm (Prevention-Protection-partnership -prosecution).  

“IOM recognizes that combatting trafficking in persons requires comprehensive approach and strong partnerships with Government, UN agencies, Civil Society and NGOs to make tangible progresses in combatting and preventing human trafficking,” he said.  

He acknowledged that Victims of trafficking returning to Sierra Leone face a multiplicity of challenges upon their return; their return often results in disappointment and is plagued with stigma. “We must avoid revictimizing VOTs and it is essential to support dignified return and reintegration for these survivors, while also raising awareness among those at risk.

Victims of trafficking’ stories are horrifying yet can also be inspiring, as they show the strength to express and overcome distress, demonstrating resolve to find a dignified life after all.

“On this World Day against human Trafficking, let us redouble our efforts to detect, protect, reach every victim, and leave no one behind”. 

In his statement, the UN Resident Coordinator, Babatunde Ahonsi said each year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, into their own countries and abroad. He said the latest global estimates by IOM and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) indicate that 28 million people are trapped in various forms of trafficking.

“On this World Day, the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone at large and through the UN Network on Migration today reaffirms its commitment to end human trafficking and calls on all partners to work together to end impunity and support the most affected”.

While officially launching the event, Minister of Social Welfare, Mrs. Melrose Karminty expressed the need for a collective work in combating human trafficking. She said the event was organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Anti-trafficking in Persons Secretariat and IOM.

She added that the event will serve as an opportunity for the Government to reinforce its commitment in the fight against the heinous crime called human trafficking.

She highlighted the several policies including legal frame works instituted by the New Direction Government under the leadership of President Bio to tackle human trafficking.

The occasion was graced by representatives from Government Ministries Department and Agencies, the Anti-Trafficking Taskforce, members of the UN Network on Migration, members of the Diplomatic Corps, UN Youth Advisory Group and representatives of Civil Society Organizations.


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