BUJUMBURA, Burundi – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the Government of Burundi, this week launched a project to strengthen government capacity to combat trafficking in persons (TiP).
The precarious security situation in Burundi has created an opportunity for human traffickers who often target the most vulnerable. An estimated 346,000 Burundians remain in neighbouring countries as refugees while 130,000 Burundians are internally displaced. though as refugees returned, these figures decreased. Refugees returning from neighbouring countries and the internally displaced remain vulnerable and desperate.
The project, known as Burundi Counter-Trafficking 2019-2022, will reinforce the government’s efforts to combat human trafficking and other cross-border crimes. The USD 3 million project, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will run for three years.
Burundi is a source country for trafficked persons, according to the US Trafficking in Persons Report. Adults and children can be coerced into forced labour, domestic servitude, prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation throughout the region and elsewhere in the world.
This new partnership will serve as a coordination mechanism for government ministries and link them to the national police and civil society to implement anti-trafficking measures. Activities under the new project will include strengthening the national referral system for protection and providing reintegration assistance to trafficking victims.
While actively engaging border communities, the project will help build the capacity of security agencies to effectively reduce and prevent human trafficking and cross-border crime, raise awareness on the basic rights of populations and create standard operating procedures for law enforcement stakeholders on handling TiP cases.
The ad hoc committee appointed by the Office of the First Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi presented the Integrated Work Plan Against Trafficking in Persons 2019-2020 during the launch of the project. The Work Plan follows the adoption of the 2014 law to prevent and combat human trafficking.
During the project launch ceremony, the First Vice-President of Burundi, Gaston Sindimwo said, “We are aware that human trafficking cannot be fought effectively without an integrated approach based on respect for human rights and taking into account the national, regional and global nature of the phenomenon.”
“A joint action by all stakeholders at the national level as outlined in the Plan, which is our focus today, is aimed at continually improving our collective perception of the issues related to trafficking in persons and combining our efforts to maximize our effectiveness,” he continued.
Caecilia Wijgers, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Burundi, said: “Trafficking in persons is a subject that requires all of us to find a solution for these tragic cases, where ordinary people find themselves one day in a nightmare when they believed they would start a promising phase of their lives. We appreciate that IOM’s programme has an integrated approach, as it is a problem for which we must work together across various disciplines.”
AJ Morgen, IOM Burundi Chief of Mission said: “This three-year project will not only help combat trafficking and other cross-border crimes, such as migrant smuggling but also improve the human security of communities affected by human trafficking and provide appropriate support to victims of trafficking.”
“Today’s launch is a milestone event for all, as it represents the basis for cooperation between different actors that will continue to be strengthened during the implementation of this project,” Morgen added.
The launch ceremony in Bujumbura was also attended by the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Martin Nivyabandi; the UN Resident Coordinator in Burundi, Dr. Garry Conille, a representative of the Mayor of Bujumbura, Christophe Kinshasa, representatives of various Ministries, local authorities, governors, civil society and members of the ad hoc commission.