ISLAMABAD: The United Nations in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) launched on Tuesday an awareness campaign on the risks and challenges of trafficking in persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants in Pakistan.

The Canadian government through its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will provide financial support for the campaign to be implemented by the Pakistan Country Office of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in association with FIA.

The campaign will be implemented nationwide in close partnership with the FIA and other relevant stakeholders. Civil Society will be a key partner in this process as UNODC understands that the government and civil society must work in close partnership to fight human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

It will target relevant stakeholders including law enforcement, media, academia, civil society organisations, non-government organisations (NGOs) and relevant government departments and the public in general, to strengthen in-country Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) prevention and response capacity.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, UNODC Representative in Pakistan, Dr Jeremy Milsom, while referring to ‘Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020’, criminals, trafficking children, target victims from extremely poor households, dysfunctional families, or those who are abandoned with no parental care.

In low-income countries, children make up half of the victims detected and are mainly trafficked for forced labour (46pc).

In higher-income countries, trafficking crimes against children may also be for sexual exploitation, forced criminality or begging, he said.

FIA Additional Director-General of Immigration, Ashraf Zubair Siddiqui said on the occasion that the Pakistan government was aware and stands fully committed to its international obligations to combat these inhuman and terrible crimes.

FIA, as the lead agency against these crimes, has developed and maintained excellent relations with its international partners in general and UNODC in specific which is an abundant demonstration of our commitment.

The FIA is grateful in receiving the support from UNODC to capacity building of agency in serious organised crime such as human trafficking and migrant smuggling, in policy and legislative reforms, trainings, equipment, research and development and international cooperation, he said.

Representative of Canadian High Commission, Matthew Ciavaglia also spoke on the occasion, and stated that the awareness campaign launched will help protect the most vulnerable from being preyed upon by human traffickers and migrant smugglers.

The campaign will help ensure that information reaches those in most need and enable civil society, policymakers, government officials to work together to help prevent and respond to these crimes.

Canada will continue to work alongside our partners, such as the Pakistan, the UNODC, in fighting trafficking and smuggling operations.

These efforts will also support safe migration, and increasing awareness is a critical component of that.”, Matthew Ciavaglia said.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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