Trends in Human Trafficking – Issue no. 12 – EEPA News Highlights

Dear readers,

The EEPA team is pleased to present the 12th issue of the newsletter on Trends in Human Trafficking between the Greater Horn of Africa and Europe. Please feel free to forward this information to others or invite them to subscribe via this link. If you have information to contribute, do not hesitate to contact us. 



Research & Reports: 

Report zooms in on achievements and gaps in ending human trafficking
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) has published an analytical report on the achievements and challenges of eradication of human trafficking. Increased prevention interventions, awareness-raising campaigns, detection of victims and national anti-trafficking responses were some of the major accomplishments since the adoption of the UN Protocol. However, according to the ICAT, challenges and gaps remain large. “Traffickers have the capacity to quickly adapt their modi operandi”, states the report, and capacity to investigate and prosecute human traffickers continues to be low. In addition, there is a great need for more effective data collection and analysis. ICAT brings recommendations which among others highlight needs to address “the core drivers” enabling human trafficking, to increase accountability of perpetrators, and upsurge systematic cooperation of anti-trafficking efforts. 

IOM launches an information guide on data collection in humanitarian situations
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has published an information guide on collection and analysis of data in order to enhance the anti-trafficking efforts in humanitarian settings. Existing literature and research tools often do not apply in humanitarian situations. The main aim of the guide is to bring forward “an evidence-based decision-making approach that allows for the development of new programming or adaptation of existing interventions to counter human trafficking”. The IOM information guide promotes specific ethical principles, protection and safeguards during data collection in humanitarian settings with particular focus on “the interests, well-being, and rights of the affected population”. In addition, the guide provides information on analysis frameworks, research methods and indicators of data collection and analysis.  

African migrants face perils on migration routes to Europe
A book chapter by Olubukola S. Adesina examines dangers faced by African refugees and migrants en route to Europe. Human trafficking and smuggling is strongly represented within the Central Mediterranean Migration Route. According to the author, “stricter immigration policies in Europe have encouraged the development of smuggling and trafficking networks in Libya”. In Libya, refugees often end up in the detention centres facing human rights abuses and violence. As refugees and migrants are ‘labelled’ as illegal migrants they are often depended on the services promoted by smugglers and traffickers. 

Human Rights Watch annual report looks at human rights trends all over the world
The annual World Report 2021 by Human Rights Watch (HRW) looks at trends and developments in human rights in more than 100 countries all over the world. The breach of human rights through crimes of human trafficking and smuggling has been detected in several African countries. In Libya, migrants and refugees are experiencing mistreatment, assaults, abuse, extortion and torture by groups of human traffickers, states HRW. The victims are often “arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions in facilities run by the GNA’s Interior Ministry and in “warehouses” run by smugglers and traffickers” says the report. The report further highlights arrest of the infamous trafficker Abd Al Rahman Al-Milad, known as Bija, who since 2018, has been sanctioned under the UN Security Council for crimes of human trafficking and smuggling against migrants and refugees. 

COVID-19 pandemic increases risk of human trafficking
Report by the Global Protection Cluster observed that COVID-19 crisis increases risks in protection of vulnerable groups which can create opportunities for networks of human traffickers to exploit them. Protection risks detected include growing psychological distress, forced movement and displacement, gender based violence and violence against children. In addition, conflicts as well as natural disasters amplify the business of human traffickers and increase number of victims. “Left unaddressed, trafficking corrodes relations between host communities, the displaced, and humanitarian responders; […] and undermines national and regional socio-political and economic stability” says the report. According to the study, human trafficking is of concern across African countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Mali, Chad, with refugees and migrants being particularly exposed to human trafficking in Libya. 66% of the Global Protection Cluster operations reported increased risk of trafficking in persons, forced recruitment and forced labour. 

Media articles:

Refugee children fleeing  from Ethiopia are at high risk of human trafficking
According to several humanitarian agencies, children who flee the conflict in Ethiopia are at high risk of falling to the hand of human traffickers, reports Reuters. Thousands of refugees fled from the Tigray region, Ethiopia, to neighbouring Sudan since the start of the conflict on 4 November 2020.  Anika Krstic, country director for Plan International Sudan, said that “human trafficking rings and some specific communities engage in such acts across the border between Sudan and Ethiopia”. Many of the children cross borders unaccompanied, without any guardian, which increases the risk of providing sufficient protection against trafficking. 

OSCE pledges to protect victims of trafficking especially women and children
On 3 and 4 December 2020, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held its annual 27th Ministerial Council. Among other topics, experts discussed future efforts of combating human trafficking and supporting victims of trafficking, particularly women and children, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Valiant Richey, OSCE Special Representative, the current crisis increases risks for potential victims of human trafficking, creating new challenges and exposing gaps in anti-trafficking policies. The experts highlighted that since the start of the pandemic, traffickers have been increasingly using internet and social media to traffic their victims.

UNODC supports Ethiopia in new legal document
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has supported Ethiopia in developing a new Proclamation on countering Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants 1178/2000. Through its regional project, the UNODC in close collaboration with Ethiopian authorities aim to eradicate human trafficking and smuggling in the country.  The project focuses on “training specialised investigation and prosecution units as well as judicial officials, to ensure victims of [trafficking in person] and vulnerable migrants —especially women and children— receive protection and support”. 

Militia groups in Libya are involved in human trafficking
Involvement of militia in human trafficking crimes in Libya has been continually reported on by various journalists and organisations. Concerns are raised over the situation of refugees and migrants trapped in both official and illegal Libyan detention centres. In a photo story, authors Francesca Mannocchi and Alessio Romenzi depict dire conditions of refugees in Libya. Witnesses describe brutal practices of traffickers such as kidnapping, assaulting, beating, or burning cigarettes on bodies of their victims. Victim often saw militias entering detention centres and carrying away “groups of migrants to reduce them to slavery, or to threaten their families, asking for a ransom”. When refugees and migrants do not have money to pay ransom they are obliged to work for their perpetrators or to fight along militia groups. 

Workshop on ending human trafficking and smuggling in Egypt
On 16 December, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons in Egypt, organised a workshop focusing on ending human trafficking and smuggling through enhanced judicial responses. Participating judges discussed international and national legal frameworks as well as actual cases of human trafficking and smuggling in the country. Ms Christina Albertin, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, stated that the efforts of the collaboration “needs to be victim-centered, provide sufficient treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration, and restitution of rights”.