Senegal is fighting human trafficking and smuggling of migrants

  These two activities have been supported by the Principality of Monaco

Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are two growing issues in West Africa that threaten the human security and economic development of populations. These two phenomena particularly affect Senegal, which is both a destination country for victims of trafficking in persons coming from the region and a country of origin for migrants wishing to join Europe. 

The victims of trafficking in persons are generally trafficked to areas where the potential profit from their exploitation is the highest. Best-known forms of exploitation include sexual exploitation, forced labour, exploitation through begging and organ trafficking. In Senegal, forced child begging is one of the main forms of exploitation in the country. "Talibés" (children enrolled in Koranic schools called "Daras") are sometimes trafficked from the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Mauritania to Senegal and forced to beg in the streets of major cities such as Dakar, the capital.

Moreover, since several years, there has also been an increase in the phenomenon of forced prostitution in the south-east of Senegal, in the region of Kédougou. Hundreds of young women from all over the region are being lured by false promises and trafficked to Senegal. The traffickers promise them jobs as models, hairdressers, waitresses or servants in Western countries. Victims are then transported via Benin, Togo and Mali before ending up on the gold mining site of Kédougou. Most of them had their travel documents confiscated and were then forced into prostitution on behalf of traffickers in order to reimburse the so-called travel expenses.

 Coumba Gawlo Seck next to victims of trafficking in persons, in Senegal

On 27 March 2017, UNODC, in partnership with World Vision Senegal, organized a campaign to raise awareness on sexual exploitation of girls and women at the gold panning sites in Kédougou. The caravan that was mobilized received wide media coverage thanks to the presence and involvement of the UNODC Goodwill Ambassador against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants in Senegal: Ms. Coumba Gawlo Seck.

The accompanying delegation was able to meet with regional authorities and the population, and above all, some 50 girls who had been trafficked and forced into prostitution in Khossanto, a village close to one of the 87 gold mining sites that exist in the southern region of the country. These women come mostly from Nigeria. Thanks to the caravan, they have been able to speak out and tell their stories for the first time. They were heard by the singer who reacted as follows: "I was both deeply saddened, moved and shocked by everything I saw here. I realized how human rights are being violated in Africa, especially women's rights. As a woman, I am deeply touched. Listening to these girls, I feel that their strongest desire is to return home and to recover their dignity."

At the same time, a training workshop delivered by UNODC in partnership with the National Anti-Trafficking Unit was also held in Dakar from 21 to 23 March 2017. The workshop was attended by 30 Senegalese Judiciary Police officers, more specifically, police inspectors from the Criminal Investigations Division (DIC) based in Dakar. They were trained on investigative techniques in the fight against trafficking in persons. The issue of smuggling of migrants was also addressed by UNODC trainers. Participants in the training were able to use their new skills immediately after the workshop and only a few weeks later the DIC dismantled a network of migrant smuggling operating from Dakar. This network had been operating for several years between Senegal, Morocco and Spain and aimed at getting migrants from Senegal to Europe. Two individuals were subsequently arrested and interrogated.

Group photo of the participants after the training

UNODC is committed to addressing the phenomena of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants while continuing its engagement in the region and Senegal as part of the Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of migrants (2015-2020).

Awareness raising activities against sexual exploitation and training of the judicial police in the techniques of investigation against trafficking in persons have been supported by the Principality of Monaco. 

For more information:

UNODC Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in West and Central Africa

Definitions and tools on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2016)

The UNODC Goodwill ambassador for trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants: Coumba Gawlo Seck