Sudan Launches New Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
Sudan acts as a major transit and destination country between many migration routes and has been used for the past decade by thousands of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers transiting to and via Sudan, which is currently home to millions of displaced persons who might be at an increased risk of abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking. Human trafficking, the trade of humans for sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation has been a major issue in Sudan since the 1980s, making Sudan a human trafficking hub. One of the reasons why human trafficking is rampant in Sudan is poverty, seeing as almost half of its population lives in poverty, which motivates the traffickers to ask for ransom while they sell people, predominantly women, and children, in efforts to deflate the national currency. They lure young victims under false promises of employing them when in reality, the smugglers transport the children for child labor.
In 2014, however, Sudan passed its first-ever act to recognize human trafficking: the Combating of Human Trafficking Act. In 2019, the country deployed strategies to tackle and prevent human trafficking after getting upgraded from tier 3 of countries violating the standards to tier 2 of watch list countries in June 2018 by the United States. The protection of victims and the stream of resources directed towards the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), has in a great way refined the status of Sudan. The U.S. State Department stated that Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) officials inaugurated a unit to steer the government’s child protection efforts in war areas and trained more than 5,000 personnel to prevent security forces from recruiting child soldiers. The Combating of Human Trafficking Act greatly benefited the general development of Sudan and brought awareness to the urgency of this problem to eradicate its extreme poverty.
On Monday, during a ceremony held in Khartoum, Sudan’s National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking (NCCHT) inaugurated a three-year national action plan to combat human trafficking from 2021 to 2023. During the ceremony, Sudanese Justice Minister Nasreddin Abdel Bari said that Sudan must protect and ensure equality for humans, stressing legal measures and reinforcing cooperation among justice bodies. He vowed to work for further progress in combating human trafficking, emphasizing that the new Sudan is committed to safeguarding the dignity of humans. Robert van den Dool, Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Sudan, said that the country has made significant efforts regarding the same, including investigation, the trial of human traffickers, and the protection of victims. He further assured that the European Union would support Sudan’s efforts in combating human trafficking.
The three-year action plan enables national institutions in Sudan to offer safe and legal immigration and combat illegal immigration while focusing on protecting and expanding livelihood opportunities. Sudan has recently been facing an increasing number of organized groups involved in these activities in eastern Sudan on the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Khartoum is conserving high-level coordination with other African countries as well as European countries to deal with the problem. The new National Action Plan (NAP) has a broader reach and considers the contributions of all concerned actors, including officials and civil society. It was planned with the support of the Counter-Trafficking and Mixed Migration Working Group (CTWG), of which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are co-chairs.
The all-inclusive goal of the new National Action Plan is to curb human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, especially women and children. While the NCCT will facilitate collective actions to meet the NAP’s goals and priorities, UNHCR and IOM urge the international community to fully assist engaged actors and concerned authorities in implementing this plan. Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative in Sudan assured that UNHCR will continue working with the NCCT, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other partners to ensure the protection of forcibly displaced people who have fallen victims of human trafficking and to find solutions for them. According to Catherine Northing, IOM Chief of Mission in Sudan, IOM is also committed to keeping up its efforts in supporting the government together with UNHCR and other partners to protect the rights of humans and provide help to victims of trafficking. UNHCR and IOM have commended the Sudanese Government for the inauguration of its 2021–2023 National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Human Trafficking.