From August 1 to 7 a delegation from Afghanistan visited Moldova for a Study and Training Visit on Assistance and Protection to Victims of Trafficking. The visit specifically aimed at focusing on Cooperation with the Government on the Empowerment of Women, the National Referral System and Shelter Management.
The 14 person delegation was composed from representatives from the Afghan Ministries of Interior, of Women Affairs, of Labour & of Social Assistance. It also included the NGO HAGAR, the Afghan National Association for Adult Education and IOM Staff.
Although accurate data on human trafficking in Afghanistan is limited, IOM research suggests widespread trafficking in persons. The phenomenon is particularly affecting, women and girls, notably in the form of abductions for forced marriage, forced prostitution and domestic servitude. IOM addresses the four Ps needed to combat this modern-day form of slavery: Prosecution, Protection, Prevention and Partnership. This visit focused on all four.
In Afghanistan, the control of criminal networks which organize the flow of drugs, people smuggling and human trafficking appears as a daunting, almost impossible task due to the displacement of vulnerable persons, conflict and porous borders in inaccessible areas.
In addition, Afghanistan has launched an important 10 year National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA); one of its key goals is TO BUILD AND SUSTAIN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT THAT ENABLES WOMEN TO LIVE A LIFE FREE FROM INTIMIDATION, FEAR AND VIOLENCE. This is the exact aim of the Moldova UN Trust Fund for Human Security project which IOM implements with UNDP, UNFPA and OSCE.
The training focused on the exchange of experiences in the following domains: Cooperation with the Government through the National Referral System (NRS), Shelter management, protection and empowerment of women at risk - as specifically done in IOM’s UN Trust Fund for Human Security Project. All areas covered were aimed at showcasing practices to further the visitors’ understanding and capabilities to assist victims and at-risk cases.
The Delegation received first hand information from shelter staff on case management and individual assistance plans for VoTs, prevention of professional burn-out and stress management for shelter staff, shelter administration, security and human resources management.
IOM Moldova has a long standing history in the counter-trafficking field. Opened by IOM in 2001, the shelter plays a key role as a crisis intervention centre for victims and at-risk cases. In 2008, operational on its own, it was handed over to the Government, and it became a public institution. The Shelter offers recovery assistance such as safe accommodation, medical care, psychological counseling as well as social and legal assistance for short term periods. It can accommodate up to 24 persons. The services provided through the Centre are offered to both victims identified abroad and victims and at-risk cases identified in Moldova.
Moldova is a country heavily affected by migration, leaving many families in dire straits as loved one’s make difficult sacrifices for their families; traveling to far away places in search of better opportunities. This steady flow of migration out of the country has given smugglers and traffickers a viable feeding ground to deceive, lure and ultimately exploit these migrants, as many look to informal migration channels to pursue false opportunities. This is especially true for women. From 2000 – July 2010, IOM Moldova has assisted 2569 women victims of trafficking: 2569 daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives in Moldovan families.
“In Afghanistan, women are also the highest risk category. With mass population displacement and porous borders, many of the displaced have no secure place to stay; forced to live in camps or open areas without any basic social services or livelihoods. Women and children living under these conditions are particularly at risk of being trafficked.” Nigina Mamadjonova, Counter Trafficking Programme Manager, IOM Kabul
Although the two countries face different conditions, considering the high vulnerability of women to fall victim to trafficking, a special emphasis on gender was placed throughout all sessions of the exchange visit. Indeed, a section on victims’ profile and the delivery of individually tailored assistance and specialized protection measures was included as women face difficult challenges in re/integration and are more likely to be subject to stigmatization, double victimization, social exclusion.
The Delegation also met with key Moldovan Government counterparts such as Minister of Internal Affairs (MoI), representatives of the Center for Combating Trafficking in Persons of the MoI, the Bureau for Migration & Asylum and the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family – IOM’s main partner in the Government-led National Referral System.
“We are deeply thankful for the exchange of experience with the Moldovan Government. We were able to see the important role partnership plays in combating human trafficking in Moldova through the National Referral System, and this is an approach we will try to emulate follow in Afghanistan.” Ahmad Farid, Head of Department for International Relations, Ministry of Labor and Social Assistance
At IOM Moldova, we believe that partnerships between missions play a vital role in effectively combating human trafficking, and we have therefore decided to follow-up with a future exchange visit from Moldova to Afghanistan.