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Governments called upon to work together, step up responses and ensure justice and support for victims of trafficking in persons 

Nairobi, 30 July 2019, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Eastern Africa (ROEA) commemorated the World Day against Trafficking of Persons on the 30 of July 2019 at the UN Office at Nairobi (UNON). The event was opened by UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, Amado de Andrés, who in his opening remarks reiterated that "We must work towards a comprehensive, coordinated and holistic approach to human trafficking which is gender and age-sensitive and grounded in a human rights based-approach".

He also referred to the recently published UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons which shows the Horn of Africa being at the center of migratory routes towards Europe, the Gulf countries, the Middle East and Southern Africa. Migrants are particularly vulnerable to smuggling of migrants, and inevitably, trafficking in persons.

According to the Report, globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims are also convicting more traffickers. These increases can be the result of a number of reasons, including enhanced national capacities to detect, record and report data on trafficking victims as well as an actual increase in trafficking cases.

In her comments, Ambassador Mariam Yassin, Somali Special Envoy for Migration and Migrant Rights, confirmed the commitment of the Government of Somalia to counter trafficking in persons. She reiterated the intention of the Government of Somalia to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. In turn, Omar Faruk, General Secretary of the Somali Trade Union (FESTU), highlighted the dangers of unregulated labour recruitment, especially for women and men being recruited to work in other countries, often under false pretenses by the recruiters.

Johan Kruger, Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes for Eastern Africa and Karen Kramer, Senior Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at UNODC, respectively highlighted the need for enhanced international cooperation in criminal matters. Both emphasized that since trafficking in persons related to migration was, in principle, of a transnational nature, it was critical for law enforcement, prosecution and central authorities to cooperate effectively by sharing information, whether through agency-to-agency cooperation, or through formal mutual legal assistance and extradition requests.

In order to enhance knowledge and strengthen capacities of practitioners, UNODC has developed a broad range of legal and technical publications and tools dedicated to various areas of international cooperation. These tools include resource material, manuals and databases to support extradition, mutual legal assistance, the transfer of criminal proceedings, the transfer of convicted persons, recognition of decisions of foreign criminal jurisdictions, the freezing or seizure of assets, and cooperation between criminal justice agencies.

UNODC supports countries to prevent and counterhuman trafficking in terms of the UNTOC and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons. UNODC is also working with private sector and civil society partners to counter cybercrime, especially to prevent and counter trafficking, abuse and exploitation of children through the Internet. By building cross-border cooperation and law enforcement capacities, we are helping tech be part of the solution to keep children and young people safe, including online.

UNODC also coordinates the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons and manages the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking.

Apart from the World Day commemoration at UNON, UNODC also supported other initiatives across the region aimed at raising awareness. In Busia, Kenya the community, in collaboration with the Kenya Counter-trafficking in Persons Secretariat, also marked the World Day with the support of UNODC within the framework of its Regional Programme for Eastern Africa (2016-2021) and the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme.

In Galkaio, Somalia, UNODC supported the Office of the Special Envoy for Migration and Migrants Rights (OSE) to commemorate the World Day, focusing on, and emphasizing the role of Somali Youth in countering human trafficking and smuggling activities. The OSE is particularly involved with activities and projects related to preventing illegal migration, advocacy for children's and migrants rights as well as other activities related to combating human trafficking which has been regarded as a modern day slavery.