The International Organization for Migration (IOM) with Korean Internal Cooperation Agency (KOICA)  will strengthen national criminal justice system, provide support to victims of trafficking and sensitise people to the risks of trafficking.

Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), in a recent report has said that about 7,00,000 Bangladesh resident left the country abroad as illegal migrant in 2019.

“Migrants migrated through irregular channels they faces serious risk over exploitation and abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers,” the BMET report said.

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, a BMET report said.

“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  BMET report said.

According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, 7,00,000 migrants left Bangladesh in 2019. Migrants who travel through irregular channels risk exploitation and abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

The government on Thursday signed an agreement with IOM to launch a five-year project on capacity building and awareness-raising to combat human trafficking from Bangladesh. IOM will partner with the home ministry to implement this project.

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 the KOICA Bangladesh.

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 build the capacity of the national criminal justice system to prosecute traffickers, provide sustainable reintegration support to victims of trafficking, and sensitise up to 10 lakh 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.

Giorgi Gigauri, IOM representative and coordinator of the Bangladesh UN Network on Migration, said that human trafficking had been a global phenomenon and a growing concern for Bangladesh.

He said that vulnerable Bangladeshi children, women and men became victims of human traffickers for different reasons, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, transactional marriage, child labour exploitation, and organ trade. ‘IOM is grateful for this support from KOICA which will help us leave no one behind in our mission to facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration,’ he said.

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. Reintegration assistance includes vocational training, life skills training, referrals for employment and assistance with micro-enterprise development. The project will build the capacity of grass roots actors and civil society to identify and refer victims of trafficking.

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.

Speaking at the project signing ceremony, the KOICA Bangladesh country director Youngah 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.’

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