Can Faith-based Organizations Assist Trafficking Victims?

Faith-based organizations play a pivotal role in providing assistance to victims of trafficking through their current programming on health, education, shelter and awareness raising activities targeting communities.They are well positioned to identify victims as a result of their frequent interaction with community members. Since September 2015, the Advisory Committee, an inter-ministerial taskforce mandated to oversee activities aimed at addressing trafficking in persons in Kenya with assistance from UNODC has been working on a National Referral Mechanism to enhance coordinated assistance for victims of trafficking.

In line with this initiative, UNODC, IOM, Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa met at the beginning of November to explore linkages between their existing programmes and opportunities for victim assistance.

The forum served to raise awareness on trafficking in persons particularly the diverse needs of victims among the church based organizations. It provided an opportunity for service providers to share their experiences,  expand their knowledge on case management and increase their existing service provision contacts including law enforcement authorities.

The Salvation Army shared their experience as an actor within the established NRM framework in the United Kingdom. Challenges in reporting cases and addressing the immediate needs of the victim were discussed by Prof Kivutha Kibwana,  Governer of Makueni County and Hon Isaac Mwaura, a nominated member of parliament  representing special interest groups.

They both highlighted practical difficulties in rescuing children with albinism from traffickers who expose them to ritual killings, or other practices steeped in superstition.  The forum concluded with an agreement that a working relationship with faith based organizations to assist victims of trafficking would continue to be explored with the possibility of establishing a regular stakeholder's network and developing a joint awareness raising message.