30 July: UNODC campaigns against human trafficking 

 

30 July marks the World Day Against Human Trafficking. This is the opportunity for the United Nations to raise awareness on the situation of victims of trafficking and to promote and protect their rights. Prohibition and elimination of child labor in all its forms is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 8.7)

Trafficking in persons is a serious and extremely lucrative crime that creates unsustainable situations which are contrary to the principle of human dignity throughout the world, affecting the countries of origin, transit and destination of the victims.

Victims of forced labor, sexual exploitation, forced begging or even organ trafficking, woman and children are most vulnerable to falling into the hands of traffickers. According to a report by UNODC (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016), children account for one-third of the world's victims of this matter, and women and girls account for 71% of victims of human trafficking.

In this context, UNODC's regional office for West and Central Africa decided, beyond its usual actions of support to the Governments of the region, to celebrate July 30 through different activities in Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Senegal.

As part of the global Blue Heart Campaign, UNODC's Regional Office for West and Central Africa took various initiatives to mobilize public opinion and engage in the fight against human trafficking. The Blue Heart symbolizes the desperation of the victims of trafficking and recalls the cruelty of those who buy and sell other human beings. It was made of wax fabric, representing the African context.

In Senegal, UNODC has been meeting with key actors who work to combat trafficking in persons and especially forced begging of children, in order to highlight their commitment. These actors included:  the National Anti-Trafficking Unit (CNLTP), mayors of the districts of Colobane, Pikine Nord and Diameguene Sicap Mbao, civil society actors (L'empire des Enfants, Samu Social) and committed intellectuals (the sociologist Mamadou Mao Wane). They were invited to present their views and share testimonies on the fight they lead against human trafficking, and to take a picture holding the Blue Heart made of wax. All the photographs collected had been published on UNODC Twitter accounts on the 30 July.

59 staff members from the Dakar office also participated in the campaign and UNODC's Regional Representative Pierre Lapaque tweeted his photo holding the Blue Heart on July 30 with the following message «Together we have to put an end to this intolerable crime against human dignity. Let's use this World Day for Victims of Human Trafficking to take on this challenge».

       
Meeting with the staff of the 'Samu Social', Dakar
        The Law Enforcement team of the Dakar Regional Office

Several influential bloggers on Senegalese social networks, including rapper Nix, blogger Francine Pips and artist L'artrepreneur joined the campaign by obtaining more than 3,500 likes on their publications wich reached no less than 100,000 « followers ».

                
 Photo from the Instagram account of @Nix, Senegalese rapper ©l'artrepreneur
        Photo from the Instagram                    account of @Francine Pips,                    Senegalese blogger
  Photo from the Instagram account        of @L'artrepreneur, Senegalese                                    painter

In Cabo Verde, UNODC expressed its support to the Blue Heart campaign during a training workshop on human trafficking and victim assistance for law enforcement agencies and NGOs.

Group photo of the participants during the workshop in Cabo Verde

In Guinea-Bissau, a celebration was organized by  UNODC on the July 30, bringing together members of the Government, diplomats, the judicial police and national guard officials, child protection organizations, as well as United Nations representatives (UNODC, UNICEF, IOM, UNDP). After listening to the speeches of the main national actors involved, the participants attended a musical performance on the theme of the World Day against Human Trafficking. Finally, everyone took a photograph with the Blue Heart.

According to UNICEF data, in Guinea-Bissau in 2017, 150 children identified as victims of exploitation, were assisted, offered psychosocial support and reintegrated into their families and communities.

     
Group photo during the conference in Guinea-Bissau

In Niger, a conference to the benefit of the gendarmes was organized jointly with UNODC and the National Agency for combatting trafficking of persons and smuggling of migrants (ANLTP/TIM) on July 30. This activity aimed to raise awareness among participants on new recruitment methods used by traffickers on the Internet, specifically on social networks, to enable them to better conduct their investigations and thus provide better protection for victims.

If social networks are used as a recruitment platform and create new risks for vulnerable people, they can also be a weapon against traffickers and serve the cause of the victims. The Blue Heart campaign painted the social networks with the colour of hope.

For more information :

World Day against Human Trafficking

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2016

Regional Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and additional protocols