The Afghan High Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (TIP Commission) launched a training manual in Kabul on how to identify and assist victims of human trafficking in Afghanistan. The manual is aimed at state workers in the country and NGO stakeholders.
According to the project's sponsor, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Commission - which includes representatives from government ministries, the judiciary and civil society - drew up the manual following a series of consultations with its constituent agencies.
Training against smuggling
The manual is the first of its kind in Afghanistan and is part of a multi-year IOM project funded by USAID, the American agency for international development. The project is designed to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to trafficking in persons. It will be used by national and international stakeholders to train Afghan law enforcement agencies including border police, immigration officials, members of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and NGOs specializing in counter trafficking.
The manual will also be distributed to shelter managers and community leaders such as members of shuras, imams and university lecturers, to raise awareness on human trafficking. "Human trafficking is a huge concern in Afghanistan. This manual will fill a knowledge gap and build the capacity of law enforcement and other responders to recognize the crime, identify victims and provide effective victim support," said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart.
A widespread phenomenon
The US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report describes Afghanistan as a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. It said internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking. IOM said men, women, and children are often exploited in bonded labor. "An initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members, sometimes for multiple generations. This is particularly prevalent in the brick-making industry in eastern Afghanistan, where entire families are trapped in debt bondage," IOM said.
It said children are also victims. Men, women, and children are often exploited in bonded labor. An initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members, sometimes for multiple generations. This is particularly prevalent in the brick-making industry in eastern Afghanistan, where entire families are trapped in debt bondage," IOM said.
It said children are also victims, "exploited in carpet making, domestic servitude, commercial sex, begging, poppy cultivation, transnational drug smuggling and the trucking industry". Afghans returning from Iran and Pakistan "are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and unaccompanied minors are often targeted by smugglers and traffickers in the communities where returnees have re-settled".