Vienna/Kabul (Austria/Afghanistan) 01 March 2021 - The Government of Afghanistan has adopted a new National Action Plan, which paves the way for continued and enhanced efforts to tackle human trafficking and migrant smuggling for the next three years.
UNODC, through its Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants initiative (GLO.ACT), supported the development of the Plan, aligning it with international standards and norms.
“Afghanistan is vulnerable in terms of smuggling routes and there are hotspots for trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants,” he said.
Minister Manawi said the event reminded his Government of the “commitment” of the international community, especially UNODC, to support Afghanistan in its efforts to fight these crimes.
“We are in a war zone and face competing priorities but trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants have never been dropped.
The Minister explained that in 2020, due to the situation with coronavirus, his Government was not able to undertake all assignments that had been planned to address human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
“We promise this year and the years ahead, we will try to compensate for what we were not able to achieve last year,” he said.
Speaking online from Vienna, Austria, Ilias Chatzis, Chief, UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, said it had been a “privilege” for UNODC to accompany Afghanistan in this effort.
“You can be very proud of the outcome. It is a comprehensive Plan that addresses the root causes of these crimes, upholds human rights and recognizes the special needs of women and girls,” he said.
UNODC’s most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons confirmed that human trafficking affects every country in the world. It targets the most vulnerable, and flourishes in situations of armed conflict and displacement.
The COVID pandemic makes a difficult situation more dire, as countries struggle to cope with the effects of the pandemic and criminals try to explore every opportunity.
“I want to congratulate the Government of Afghanistan for maintaining the struggle against human trafficking and migrant smuggling high on its agenda despite these difficult circumstances,” said Mr. Chatzis.
To prepare the new Plan, the GLO.ACT Policy Team worked closely with the Government of Afghanistan for a year to analyse the previous National Action Plan, which expired at the end of February 2021.
“We wanted to understand the challenges faced in its implementation, identity the gaps, and make improvements,” said GLO.ACT Policy Lead, Samantha Irikidzai Munodawafa.
“The new Plan has clear objectives, timelines and details of the responsible authorities. It’s an accountable Plan, since there’s a component that enables the Government to monitor and measure progress.”
The Plan is in line with best global practices and is founded on the pillars or any successful response to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, “prevention, protection, prosecution and cooperation and coordination”, explained Ms. Irikidzai Munodawafa.
The development of the National Action Plan is one of many initiatives that UNODC and the Government of Afghanistan have conducted jointly.
“We supported assessment missions to the provinces where we know human traffickers and migrant smugglers are active to better understand the situation on the ground,” said GLO.ACT’s National Project Officer for Afghanistan, Ahmad Zubair Mahak.
“Afghanistan has also played a leadership role in the GLO.ACT Regional Women’s Network of Gender Champions Against Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling.”
“The Network seeks to promote empowerment of women and increase opportunities for female officials to contribute to efforts to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling,” he added.
GLO.ACT is currently cooperating with Afghanistan to provide specialised training and mentorship programmes to law enforcement and criminal justice officials. At a regional level, efforts are underway to identify opportunities for joint operational actions and initiatives to strengthen the tracing of illicit financial flows generated by human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
This project is funded by the European Union.
GLO.ACT is a joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).