World Day Against Trafficking in Persons: Victims in lock-down

29 July 2020, Cairo, Egypt - This year the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons coincides with the persistence of COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively impacted the entire world, especially the marginalized and vulnerable groups. It has also led to the emergence of new groups affected by the deterioration of economic conditions, making them vulnerable to all forms of exploitation. The unprecedented measures adopted to flatten the infection curve, may at first sight, increase police presence at the borders and on the streets, however, it has driven criminal groups to further operate in a more discrete way, adjusting their business models to the ‘new normal’ created by the pandemic, especially through the abuse of modern communications technologies.

Ambassador Naela Gabr, Chairperson of the National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons (NCCPIM&TIP), emphasized that “The committee managed to continue the implementation of the national strategy, finalizing the first shelter for the victims of human trafficking, and upgrading NCW and NCHR’ helplines as well as launching the second wave of the national counter trafficking media campaign in order to raise the public awareness about the different forms of the crime”

In the Middle East and North Africa, the most common forms of Trafficking in Persons are forced labor (55%), which is closely followed by sexual exploitation (36%), as per the latest UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons issued in 2018. Other forms of exploitation (9%), including forced begging and organ removal, are also prevalent. In response to these concerns, countries in the region have amplified their efforts to address the gaps in legislative and policy frameworks.

“In the unprecedented time of COVID-19, we need to reinforce our sense of shared responsibility for the protection of victims of human trafficking, one of the most vulnerable groups. Overcoming COVID-19, we need to build back better for justice and the human rights of human trafficking survivors.” Ms. Cristina Albertin, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) reflected.

Mr. Laurent De Boeck, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Egypt’s Chief of Mission, added that “it is essential that all citizens, institutions and Governments work closely together to fight this inhumane phenomenon. Every single woman and man has a role to play to guarantee the protection of every citizen against these criminals”.

If the world is to put human dignity and human rights at the centre of the COVID-19 response and recovery, we need to do more to protect trafficking victims and prevent vulnerable people from being exploited by criminals. On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us pledge to work for inclusive societies and economies that leave no one behind.

For more information, please contact Omar Awwad at IOM Egypt, Tel: +20 1032 049 144; Email: oawwad@iom.int