The International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed an agreement with Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) on Thursday 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, according to a press release.
The agreement was signed at the IOM office in Dhaka by Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Representative and Coordinator of the Bangladesh UN Network on Migration, and Doh Youngah, Country Director of Koica Bangladesh.
According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 700,000 migrants left Bangladesh in 2019. Migrants travelling 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.
Gigauri 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 labour, transactional marriage, child labor exploitation and organ trade.”
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.
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.
Country Director of Koica Bangladesh, 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.”
Doh said 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.