16 June 2009 - Nearly 130,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa and 230,000 in the Middle East and North Africa have been recruited into forced labour, including sexual exploitation, as a result of human trafficking. These estimates by the International Labour Organization paint a grim picture of human trafficking in Africa. Although a large number of victims of human trafficking of African origin are found within the continent, many are also transported to Western Europe and other parts of the world, according to a recent UNODC report on trafficking in persons wordwide.
The African Union has chosen the Day of the African Child, celebrated today, to launch AU.COMMIT, an initiative to fight human trafficking in Africa. This campaign seeks to make the fight against trafficking in persons a priority on the development agenda of the continent. It also calls on African States to build on the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, which guides African Union member States in developing and reforming their policies and laws on trafficking in persons.
Many African States still do not have legislation on human trafficking, or only have laws that criminalize some aspects of human trafficking (such as child trafficking).
"Such a campaign is badly needed," says UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "The evidence available tells a woeful tale of how many regions of Africa are highly vulnerable to trafficking. Shockingly, in West and Central Africa, most of the perpetrators are women. Across the continent, many of the victims are children," he adds.
As the guardian of an international anti-human trafficking instrument and as the provider of technical assistance, UNODC supports the African Union initiative. UNODC also collaborates with the African Union under the framework of the implementation of the Union's Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention.