Today, 30 July 2018, marks the fifth World Day against trafficking in persons, which represents an important opportunity to reflect on our shared responsibility and show solidarity with the victims of this crime.
This year, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), to which UNICRI is member, decided to focus on trafficking in children and young people, who represent 28 per cent of the total victims of trafficking identified worldwide (20 per cent girls and 8 per cent boys). Across regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, children account for an even higher proportion of identified trafficking victims, at 64 and 62 per cent respectively.
The vulnerability of children and young adults to trafficking is very high. Protecting them is also particularly important as humanitarian crises and armed conflicts have left children and young people at greater risk of being trafficked. Children and young people face considerable risks when, in the absence of safe and legal migration pathways, must turn to smugglers to travel to distant countries, often unaccompanied.
At the same time, human traffickers take advantage of the Internet and the new technologies to broaden their reach, using apps and chat rooms to exploit and abuse young people. For example, young girls can be deceived into sham marriages or blackmailed into sexual exploitation and young boys can be lured using false promises of better work.
Over the past decade, UNICRI has been strongly involved in the implementation of various applied-research and technical assistance projects in the field of counter-trafficking in persons and child exploitation. Several programmes have been carried out in the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, Thailand, the Philippines, and Ukraine.
In order to enhance existing mechanisms and increase the transfer of knowledge and coordination among stakeholders, UNICRI conducted an assessment of local and international initiatives to counter trafficking in persons. The objective of the research was to identify the activities implemented in North Africa (with specific focus on Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt) and especially those interventions focusing on the needs of women and unaccompanied minors. The results showed that, whilst significant resources are invested to counter the phenomenon, too little is being done to provide effective protection to potential victims of trafficking and to unaccompanied or separated minors, another vulnerable segment of the population who often are diverted into the hands of smugglers. The study also highlighted the need to increase regional partnership — among countries of origin, transit, and destination on both sides of the Mediterranean — and enhance information-sharing on regional and national rapid response mechanisms to address the different challenges posed by trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
In 2017 and 2018, in the view to complement and implement the result of this research, UNICRI organized several specialized courses. The Institute information sharing and capacity building activity, aims to enhance knowledge about this crime and raise awareness on the importance of an appropriate identification of the different protection needs of migrants who are victims of trafficking, especially minors.