Zim seeks $1,5m to tackle trafficking

HARARE - Zimbabwe is seeking about $1,5 million to implement its action plan targeted at curbing human trafficking.

Last week, the government launched the “Zimbabwe Trafficking in Persons National Plan of Action” (ZTPNPA) after scores of trapped women were rescued from Kuwait, with more suspected to still be stuck in the Middle East.

According to the ZTPNPA, crafted by the anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee, the $1,5 million would be used to fund training workshops, consultations, research, public campaigns and the establishment of a trafficking in persons fund, among other activities.

However, it is not clear in the action plan booklet how the government intends to raise the funds, although United Nations agents committed to help Zimbabwe in implementing the strategy.

The funds will be managed by government over a two-year implementation period.

Among other things the government is planning to set up a shelter for trafficking victims as well as give them capital to start income-generating projects.

This comes as 101 Zimbabwean women who had been trafficked to Kuwait were recently repatriated back home.

Initially, it was estimated that 200 women were trapped in the Gulf, but revelations by rescued victims suggested that the numbers were way higher.

Trafficking in persons has become a headache for Zimbabwe with the legislators pleading with government to send instigators to rescue more women who are trapped in the Middle East.

The country’s economic situation — high unemployment, escalating poverty and poor service delivery — has made many desperate, forcing them to migrate to foreign lands, only to find that the grass is not always greener.

The southern African country has become a target for traffickers, who lure vulnerable citizens with non-existent lucrative employment opportunities.

Zimbabwean authorities also intend to monitor private employment agencies as part of measures to curb human trafficking.

The government is also targeting to educate vulnerable Zimbabweans on employment practices in various countries so that they become aware of possible slavery practices.

Human trafficking is a billion-dollar illicit industry, with 55 percent of victims being women and 26 percent being children, according to the United Nations.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime regional advisor Samantha Monodawafa said the action plan should be able to make traffickers fear Zimbabwe.

“(This is) just to send a message out there from a criminal justice point of view to traffickers that, Zimbabwe will not tolerate this kind of impunity,” she said.

Zimbabwe has an operational anti-trafficking law; Trafficking in Persons Act (Chapter 9:25), which was enacted in 2014.

Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi who read a speech on behalf of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the launch of the action plan last week said government was going to work with development partners in implementation of the action plan.

“In line with Trafficking in Persons Act, the government... has been preoccupied with this situation and has facilitated the repatriation of the victims of trafficking,” he said.

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