GENEVA, Switzerland, March 22, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has assisted five children who were victims of human trafficking in South Sudan to return home to Uganda.
The children, ranging in age from 10 to 16, were forced to sell goods on the streets of the South Sudanese capital, Juba. In interviews with IOM staff, the children described having to work on the streets from early in the morning until evening, then packing goods for the next day until late at night.
Members of the Ugandan community in Juba referred the children to the Ugandan Embassy. IOM was subsequently notified by an embassy official who had previously received training from IOM on human trafficking. An IOM NGO partner in Juba provided the children with shelter, while IOM made arrangements to return them to Uganda.
The children were flown back to Uganda on Tuesday, where they were met by IOM staff. Some of the children are being reunited with their families, while the others were provided with shelter through a local NGO. The older children will be offered vocational training opportunities based on their interests, so that they will be able to support themselves in Uganda.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that human trafficking is on the rise in South Sudan’s urban centres. In August 2012, IOM assisted two teenage victims of trafficking from Kenya who had been forced into domestic servitude in Juba.
South Sudan is classified as a “Tier 2 Watch List” country in the latest US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which indicates that the country does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making efforts to do so. The report cites South Sudan’s lack of adequate mechanisms to prosecute those involved in trafficking and protect victims.
IOM is working with the government to address the country’s lack of legal, medical, psychosocial and referral services for victims of trafficking. It has also appealed for funding to conduct a baseline assessment to determine the current extent of cross-border and internal trafficking in South Sudan.
A key area of IOM support is building the government’s technical capacity. IOM works closely with the Ministries of Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs to train immigration and police personnel in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking, as well as the effective prosecution of traffickers.
Support for the return and reintegration of victims of trafficking is provided through IOM’s Global Assistance Fund (GAF.) The GAF is an emergency support mechanism that provides case-specific assistance to victims of human trafficking. It is funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migrants (PRM.)