Inhambane (Mozambique), 30 July 2023 – Mozambique’s #BlueHeart Campaign, marking World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, took place between 24 and 28 July in the province of Inhambane. in 2022 alone, 38 victims of human trafficking were recruited in Inhambane to be exploited for labour in South Africa, according to the Office of the Attorney-General of Mozambique.
The campaign, a joint initiative of the Office of the Attorney-General, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Save the Children Mozambique, focused on the theme “Reach every victim, leave no one behind” and was made possible by generous funding from the Kingdom of Norway, the United States Department of State and USAID.
Reach Every Victim
According to the 2022 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 41% of victims worldwide who manage to escape their ordeal reach out to the authorities on their own initiative – signaling a slowdown in anti-trafficking. Low rates of victim identification may have been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed human trafficking further underground.
The campaign included capacity-building sessions with the National Reference Group tasked with combatting Trafficking in Persons, focused on victim identification and referral and child protection measures with a view to increasing nationwide capacity to protect and support people affected by this crime. Children remain especially vulnerable to trafficking, accounting for 35% of victims worldwide, according to UNODC data.
“Trafficking of Persons is a crime that affects the most vulnerable parts of the population. Norway stands ready to support national authorities in Mozambique tasked with tackling this challenge. We shall leave no one behind,” stated H.E. Haakon Gram-Johannessen, Ambassador of Norway to Mozambique.
Government, civil society, artists and international partners joined the call for greater community awareness, in helping identify and support victims and survivors. Her Excellency the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Action, Nyeleti Mondlane, called on parents and guardians to be more vigilant so that "no child falls into the network of traffickers."
Echoing her sentiment, Moreira Chonguiça, a Mozambican ethnomusicologist, said that to combat this crime it is necessary that "we, the 30 million inhabitants of this beautiful Mozambique, be vigilant, be it at school or at day care centres, at church or at the mosque, on football fields, at weddings, throughout communities in general.”
These messages were underscored throughout awareness-raising sessions held in schools and local markets in the Maxixe district, engaging students, marketgoers and vendors.
Mozambique, long considered a country of origin, transit and destination for Trafficking in Persons, has grappled with armed conflict in the northern province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, which has led to the cumulative internal displacement of over 1,000,000 people in the region, according to IOM data.
Considered one of most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world, Mozambique has also been affected in recent years by cyclones, tropical storms, floods and drought, with currently over 41,000 displaced persons in the central provinces.
The ensuing instability has created new “business opportunities” for organized criminal groups, further exposing the country to the threat of different forms of transnational organized crime, including Trafficking in Persons.
Tamyris Moiane, a Mozambican singer, alerts to the proliferation of schemes of false employment and academic opportunities in Mozambique and abroad, which lure victims into trafficking networks.
A Mozambican victim shares her experience:
“She took me to the beach during my school break. She said she would give me a job in South Africa, that I would earn millions of South Africa rands, and that I would become a hairdresser and businesswoman like her. But, when we arrived, I was locked up in a luxury condominium and forced to prostitute myself.”