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Call for Improved International Cooperation During World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Nairobi 

Nairobi, 31 July 2018 : On the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa urged Member States in Eastern Africa to step up their responses to prevent and counter trafficking in persons in the region. This include the commitment to enhance international cooperation in criminal matters and to better protect the most vulnerable - children and young people - which represent one-third of the victims in Eastern Africa.

Marking the World Day against Trafficking in Persons in an event organized in Nairobi, a panel consisting of Mr. Tamrat Samuel, acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Ambassador Stefano Dejak, Ambassador of the European Union in Kenya, Ambassador Mariam Yassin Hagi Yusuf, the Special Envoy for Children and Migrants' Rights of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mr George Kinoti, Director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and UNODC, together with the representatives from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, discussed the way forward to strengthening regional and international cooperation.

Over the past decade, human trafficking has become one of the major concerns of the international community and one of the most profitable activities of organized criminal groups worldwide.

" According to the 2016 Global Report on Human Trafficking, 79% of trafficking victims around the world are women and children. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, a majority of the detected victims are children. There seems to be a relation between a country's level of development and the age of detected trafficking victims. In the least developed countries, children often comprise large shares of the detected victims" said acting Director-General of UNON, Mr. Tamrat Samuel.

In Eastern Africa, this is not an exception. " Children and young people fall victims to human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion at an alarming rate. Thousands of children have died on perilous sea crossings or crossing deserts, while the criminals responsible escape justice" Mr. Samuel added.

Almost every country in the world is affected by this scourge, and hundreds of thousands of victims have been forced into exploitative situations every day. UNODC, as the guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, is charged with the responsibility of helping Member States to promote ratification or accession to these instruments, but also to comply with the provisions of the Convention and Protocol by developing comprehensive, sustainable and coordinated legislation and criminal justice responses to trafficking in persons. In Eastern Africa, UNODC does so primarily through its Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021) and its regional sub-programme on Countering Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking.

In the opening remarks, Dr. Amado Philip de Andres, UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, stated: " The Horn of Africa being at the center of migratory routes towards Europe, the Gulf countries, the

Middle East and Southern Africa, is particularly vulnerable to smuggling of migrants, and inevitably, trafficking in persons. Human traffickers prey on the most desperate and vulnerable, and these shifting factors all impact on trafficking and smuggling flows within and beyond the region."

For many years Somalia has been a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploitation. Young Somali men and women who harbour aspirations of reaching Europe in search of a better life often end up in the hands of criminal gangs. These gangs hold the migrants for ransom and in some cases they sell the women to other criminal groups for exploitation in the domestic sector and/or the sex industry.

Ambassador Mariam Yassin Hagi Yusuf, the Special Envoy for Children and Migrants' Rights of the Federal Republic of Somalia, notes that Somalia continues to be characterized by migration flows, with internal displacement and irregular migration constituting major challenges every year, the thousands of Somalis who make hazardous journeys along regional migration routes are exposed to severe risks.

"The office of the Special Envoy for Children and Migrants' is committed and is investing in significant time and resources in collaborating with various international organizations to address Human trafficking challenges" stated Ms. Yusuf, the Special Envoy for Children and Migrants' Rights.

Trafficking in human is a transnational crime with an estimate number of 800,000 people being trafficked across international borders annually.

" Trafficking in persons deprives millions worldwide of freedom, respect for human dignity and the rule of law, fundamental values of the EU. It is the slave trade of our world today, a horrible crime that EU, Africa and the UN needs to join hands to address it" said the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Stefano Dejak.

Various national and international actors have undertaken major efforts to prevent and combat this global crime. For UNODC the international cooperation aimed at preventing and countering this crime is a matter of urgency. In this context, UNODC is implementing programme activities as part of the "Better Migration Management (BMM) Programme" funded by European Union (EU) and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The BMM programme aims at improving migration management in the region, and in particular at addressing the trafficking and smuggling of migrants within, and from the Horn of Africa. For UNODC, this includes assisting countries to draft policy and legislation to criminalize trafficking in line with international treaty obligations, to ensure effective criminal justice capacity building, and to promote international cooperation in criminal matters. One of the key priorities of the BMM programme overall is to protect and support victims of trafficking and to promote the rights of migrants and to better protect them from violence, abuse and exploitation, especially by organized crime syndicates.

Emphasizing the need for international cooperation as cornerstone of the Convention and Protocol, Johan Kruger, UNODC Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes said: " UNODC works with international partners and Member States through various mechanisms to achieve improved international cooperation". According to Mr. Kruger " international cooperation requires strong partnerships. In this regard, we have seen very good solutions such as the Better Migration Management Programme (BMM Programme) funded by the EU and Germany, of which UNODC is an implementing partner , as well as our joint activities with INTERPOL and bilateral cooperation through ongoing programme activities with the Governments of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda and Uganda", said Johan underlining that "it important to have strong national criminal justice responses to trafficking in persons, however, unless we work across borders to stop and disrupt trafficking in persons and to protect and assist victims of various nationalities, we will never fully prevent or disrupt this crime or be able assist the victims comprising various nationalities".

The World Day against Trafficking in Persons event was organized by UNODC within the framework of the BMM programme.

The BMM programme is a regional, multi-partner project funded by EUTF, and managed by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). UNODC is one of the main implementing partners along with International Organization for Migration (IOM), Expertise France, Italian State Police, the Société de Conseil et de Service du Ministère de l'Intérieur (CIVIPOL) and the British Council.

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