Humanitarian Actors Equip Protection Teams to Tackle Trafficking in Persons in Humanitarian Crisis

Joint Statement: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Heartland Alliance International (HAI) embarked on an anti-trafficking training of protection stakeholders

Maiduguri – From 19 to 23 August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Heartland Alliance International (HAI) organized a multi-day workshop to draw attention to the issue of human trafficking and to discuss the support available to victims in the context of humanitarian crisis.

The Protection Sector in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team - co-led by UNHCR, IOM & HAI - organized the workshop for 75 protection actors from related government agencies, civil society organizations, and humanitarian organizations working in north-east Nigeria, a region ravaged by ongoing conflict which is now entering its tenth year of crisis.

Evidence shows that humanitarian crises, such as armed conflicts, natural disasters, and protracted unrest, disrupt State and community structures. Instability, combined with an environment where people face material, social and economic losses enable human traffickers to thrive. Increasingly severe manifestations of trafficking witnessed in crises around the world have drawn calls for humanitarian actors to better incorporate anti-trafficking initiatives into protection efforts.

Despite this evidence, prevention of trafficking in persons and protection of victims remain overlooked or not addressed comprehensively. This is due to a multitude of challenges faced by humanitarian workers to make an anti-trafficking response feasible and effective. Obstacles to prevention measures and protection are also due to the complexity surrounding human trafficking, as well as a lack of specialized knowledge, and limited data on the prevalence of trafficking.

To build stronger anti-trafficking responses in the north-east, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force in Borno was established in July 2019 by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and in cooperation with UNHCR, IOM and Heartland Alliance International. One of the challenges that the Task Force aims to address is how to embed anti-trafficking action into the humanitarian response. The week-long workshop served as an opportunity to bring together key stakeholders to consider ways to operationalize and accompany the establishment of anti-trafficking action into the Protection Sector.

The workshop, entitled ‘Integrating Anti-Trafficking into Existing Protection Mechanisms’, aimed at providing an interactive opportunity to generate ideas, solutions and to consult protection practitioners on tools and guidance recently developed by the Global Protection Cluster Anti-Trafficking Task Team.

As agreed by M. Alexander Kishara, UNHCR Head of Sub Office, “Trafficking in persons, as a grave violation of human rights is a protection issue, and in the context of north-east Nigeria, concerted actions must be taken by all involved to ensure integration in ongoing protection mechanisms. It is a collective responsibility.”  

“The complexity of human trafficking is compounded by the grim reality of displacement and other humanitarian needs in the north east,” said Dave Bercasio, IOM Nigeria Emergency Coordinator. “This training is an effort to gather all the key players at the table to generate ideas on how to integrate counter-trafficking work into our overall response,” he added.

The participants explored ways to incorporate anti-trafficking initiatives into existing mechanisms, including the steps to be taken to strengthen the identification of trafficking cases and provide a systematic response to assist victims of trafficking.

“The training has equipped us with a broader understanding of trafficking in persons in humanitarian action. The tools developed and shared during the training will assist us with practical measures to address TIP in our work as humanitarian workers”, said Patience Peret, a project coordinator from Heartland Alliance International, one of the training participants. 

 

For more information, please contact

Jorge Galindo, IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 803 645 2973, Email: jgalindo@iom.int

Bina Emavnel, UNHCR Nigeria, Tel +234 8090161438, Email; emanvel@unhcr.org