by Andrew Taylor July 10th, 2011
SUMMARY: The U.S. State Department’s report last week on global human trafficking includes portraits of “special cases” Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Somalia – impoverished nations on the verge of lawlessness, without government infrastructure to effectively prevent the practice. These countries have also experienced recent hardships such as natural disasters and civil wars which have led to increased human trafficking. Human trafficking doesn’t always mean people are taken out of the country. In these special cases, some victims are forced into servitude within their own countries.
KEY LINK: Trafficking In Persons Report, 2011 Special Cases, U.S. Department of State, June 27, 2011
After the earthquake in last year, much of the “fundamental infrastructure,” has been lost, leading to a gap in protection against human trafficking. Many of those put into the human trade are young children who are likely homeless and without “family support.” The estimate is that anywhere from 173,000 to 225,000 children are in forced servitude in Haiti. Many are taken across the border to the Dominican Republic for illegal adoption and forced labor. The government of Haiti recognizes that there is a human trafficking problem, but lacks the legislative infrastructure to boost prevention. Most of the support for victims of child trafficking has come from non-governmental organizations which help screen for victims and provide basic needs like food and shelter. The State Department recommends a continued partnership with NGOs to increase victim services.
Somalia hasn’t had a “viable central government since 1991,” according to the report, which has created a haven for human trafficking. Information is hard to come by, but with two regional governments and a number of terrorist and pirate groups in the country, the expected numbers are high and getting higher. For example, an increased number of pirate groups have led to a rise of Somali women being used for sex trafficking along the coast. Conditions in Somalia are harsh even for those not being in servitude, so some parents even surrender children into trafficking, hoping for a better life. Camps that entice people with good paying jobs lead to transporting Somalis to Europe or the Middle East for forced labor. Forced conscription of child soldiers by insurgent groups and terrorist organizations are also a significant problem. Somalia’s biggest problem is a lack of a central government to stop trafficking. The State Department reports that there have been no efforts by Somalia to report, stop, or even discourage human trafficking.
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
A civil war following a contested November 2010 presidential election led to widespread institutional chaos which has undermined efforts to combat human trafficking. Cote d’Ivoire is a destination for women and children lured from countries like Ghana, Mali, Togo and Nigeria with promises of fair work or a better life outside of their home, but then forced into labor under working and pay conditions which constitute involuntary servitude. Boys are forced into labor on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations; in mining, construction, and carpentry. Ghanian and Nigerian women and girls promised jobs as waitresses or in clothing sales are then forced into prostitution. As domestic equilibrium is established, the State Department suggests having dedicated task forces to break up human trade. It would also like to see “care facilities” for those who have been victims of trafficking. The report asserts that many of those who have actually escaped are given no help to return to a normal life.