UNODC, the EU and Belgium commit to “leave no one behind” in the fight to end human trafficking

(c) UNODC | Minister Van Quickenborne, Liège Mayor Willy Demeyer, UNODC Head of Human Trafficking Section Ilias Chatzis and Partners in Belgium launch the Blue Heart Campaign on 24 July 2023.

Brussels, 30 July 2023

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was observed on 30 July 2023 in Belgium and around the world with a resounding call to "reach every victim of trafficking, leave no one behind". UNODC, European, and Belgian partners joined forces to mark World Day and raise awareness through the Blue Heart Campaign.

The Belgian campaign was officially launched on 24 July in Liège by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne. Supported by Mayor Willy Demeyer, SÜRYA Director Christian Meulders, and UNODC, the event gathered government officials, magistrates, specialized law enforcement, the UN, and civil society partners.

Aiming to better inform victims and members of the public who may suspect a case of trafficking, the Minister also announced a new 24/7 hotline (078/055.800) in Belgium. The website is now available in 24 languages. Ilias Chatzis, Head of the UNODC Anti-Trafficking Section, took the opportunity to send out a clear message “human trafficking still exists and we must continue to work together to stop it.”

Leading up to World Day, the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator and UNODC issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of awareness raising, early detection of victims and their protection.

In the statement, John Brandolino, UNODC Director for Treaty Affairs, acknowledged “the European Union as a key partner for UNODC” and stressed that “together we strive to strengthen global anti-trafficking responses”. Through joint actions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the EU and UNODC are equipping partner countries to better detect human trafficking and to assist and protect its victims.

On 30 July, more than 20 cities across Belgium, including Brussels, Arlon, Bruges, and Ypres illuminated their most famous monuments in blue in support of the Blue Heart Campaign. Manneken-Pis again wore his Blue Heart costume in Brussels. And NGO Partner PAG-ASA organized information stands to engage the public in Brussels, Leuven, and Louvain-La-Neuve.

UNODC is also grateful this year for the partnership of the Smurfs, Belgian Cats, Belgian Olympic Committee, Belgian Cycling, Xocolate, and the Samilia Foundation for their support to the campaign.

The Blue Heart Campaign's impact stretches beyond borders, and with the enduring support of partners like the European Union and Belgium as well as the dedication of civil society actors like PAG-ASA, SÜRYA, and Payoke, we can strengthen global efforts to #EndHumanTrafficking and achieve the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind”.