30th July 2018
On 30 July 2018, which marks the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, two countries in the MENA Region joined the Global Blue Heart Campaign for awareness raising on the crime of trafficking in persons, namely, Egypt and Tunisia.
The Government of Egypt and the Government of Tunisia, represented by their respective National Committees mandated to combat trafficking in persons, partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to celebrate the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, and to launch the campaign at national level. During the two celebrations, the National Committees invited national, regional and international development partners, individuals, civil society organizations and private sector to take action against trafficking in persons and to voice their sympathy and support for the victims. The guests wore the Blue Heart pins to show commitment to end this crime and solidarity with the victims.
In Egypt, the National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons (NCCPIM& TIP), UNODC and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly organized a launching event at the historic Salah El Din Citadel to celebrate Egypt's adoption of the Blue Heart Campaign on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The Blue Heart logo was displayed on the old walls of the Citadel after sunset making it visible to thousands of car drivers and pedestrians moving in the area. During the event an exhibition for handmade products by Egyptian entrepreneurs took place at the historic location, and another photo exhibition by IOM. Media entities and journalists were present to air and report on the event for further outreach. Ambassador Naela Gabr, Chairperson of NCCPIM&TIP, Ms Cristina Albertin, UNODC Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Laurent De Boeck, IOM Representative in Egypt, and Mr. Ivan Surkos, Head of the European Union Delegation in Egypt, called for more coordinated action to raise awareness and combat this crime. They also highlighted that the campaign is considered a milestone towards achieving the sustainable development goals. " I congratulate the Egyptian Government for joining this initiative, and I invite all the distinguished guests to wear the Blue Heart pin to demonstrate our collective commitment to end this crime. Do not only wear it today, wear it tomorrow, the day after, wear it always" said Ms Cristina Albertin, UNODC Representative for the MENA Region.
In Tunisia, the Minister of Justice, Mr Ghazi Jeribi opened the ceremony on the 30 th of July and officially announced that Tunisia joined the Blue Heart Campaign. The National Committee against Trafficking in Persons seized the opportunity of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons to publicize the newly adopted national strategy to fight trafficking in persons developed with UNODC's support. During the event, Mrs Raoudha Laabidi, the President of the National Committee declared that " Tunisia was the first country to abolish slavery in the MENA region in 1846 and yet today, in 2018, modern forms of slavery remain. The law 2016-61 was the first step, and in one year 742 victims of human trafficking have been identified. Tunisia won't stop until it eradicates human trafficking". The event was co-organized by UNODC and IOM. It was attended by 200 participants from different ministries, members of parliament, representatives of diplomatic missions, international organizations, public figures, artists, and civil society representatives. After the official ceremony, a forum of civil society was inaugurated where 11 organizations presented their work to combat human trafficking and provide support to the victims. In the afternoon, a documentary on human trafficking in Tunisia developed by the international NGO Lawyers without borders was screened and followed by a debate.
Egypt and Tunisia are signatories of the United Nations Convention against Transnational organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.
Within the prevention aspect of combating human trafficking, UNODC/ROMENA works to promote the Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking across the MENA Region as a vehicle for awareness raising, particularly among vulnerable and marginalized groups.
The celebrations were possible thanks to the support provided by the European Union and the Norwegian Government.