IOM and KOICA Sign Agreement to Combat Human Trafficking in Bangladesh

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed an agreement with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to launch a five-year project on capacity building and awareness-raising to combat human trafficking in Bangladesh. IOM will partner with the Ministry of Home Affairs to implement this project.

The agreement was signed at the IOM office in Dhaka on 19 March 2020 by Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Representative and Coordinator of the Bangladesh UN Network on Migration, and Doh Youngah, Country Director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Bangladesh.

According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 700,000 migrants left Bangladesh in 2019. Migrants that travel through irregular channels risk exploitation and abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Globally there are an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern-day slavery, and the highest prevalence of forced labour is in Asia and the Pacific. While verified data on the number of victims is not officially available, there are approximately 4,700 cases of alleged human trafficking awaiting prosecution in Bangladesh.

The project, known as KOICA-IOM Comprehensive Programme to Combat Human Trafficking in Bangladesh, will aim to build the capacity of the national criminal justice system to prosecute traffickers, provide sustainable reintegration support to victims of trafficking and sensitise up to one million people to the risks of trafficking and the importance of safe migration in trafficking-prone areas all over the country including Dhaka, Jashore, Satkhira and Cox’s Bazar.

Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Representative and Coordinator of the Bangladesh UN Network on Migration said:Human trafficking is a global phenomenon and a growing concern for Bangladesh. Vulnerable Bangladeshi children, women and men become victims of human traffickers for different reasons, including sexual exploitation, forced labor, transactional marriage, child labor exploitation and organ trade. IOM is grateful for this support from KOICA which will help us leave no one behind in our mission to facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration.’

Gigauri continued: ‘We are looking to build the capacity of the judiciary, law enforcement, ministries and departments to implement the Prevention and Suppression of the Human Trafficking Act (PSHTA) which was passed in 2012. We acknowledge that the Government is taking concerted measures to strengthen its capacity to combat these crimes against the most vulnerable in our community. We look forward to working alongside the Ministry of Home Affairs on this important project.’

Over five years, IOM and partners will assist up to 800 victims of human trafficking with shelter and reintegration assistance to reduce their vulnerability and empower survivors to attain self-sufficiency. Reintegration assistance includes vocational training, life skills training, referrals for employment and assistance with micro-enterprise development. The project will build the capacity of grass roots actors and civil society to identify and refer victims of trafficking. IOM will strengthen the capacity of over 2,100 government officials to identify and assist victims, and to apprehend and prosecute human traffickers. IOM will provide referral advice for support services to victims identified by the courts in Cox’s Bazar, Jashore, Satkhira, and Dhaka. A Halfway Home will be established help victims of trafficking.

Speaking at the project signing ceremony, the Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh, Ms. Youngah Doh said:Human trafficking is a heinous crime against humanity. We hope that the preventative and supportive measures of this project will contribute to halt trafficking and empower the survivors. At the same time, successful prosecution of traffickers will send a strong message to criminals operating trafficking networks that they will be apprehended and punished for their crimes. This project is an ongoing commitment of KOICA to work with the Government of Bangladesh to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and especially Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) in particular.’

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