Kinshasa, DRC – From November 11 to 15, 35 Ministry of Social Affairs officials and social service professionals from local NGOs learned to combat the illicit trafficking of Congolese children through a U.S. government-funded training led by International Organization for Migration (IOM). Tragically, Congolese children are among the world’s most vulnerable to human trafficking. According to IOM experts, one tactic used by traffickers, sometimes themselves relatives of the victims, is to create a pretense – for example, a promise of a sports opportunity or better life in a different city – for taking possession of the child. Training participants learned tactics for combating this practice and other strategies for identifying victims, enhancing prevention efforts, providing victim-centered and trauma-informed care, and reintegrating victims into society.
“Trafficking in persons, especially of children, is a heinous crime,” said Marion Ekpuk, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. “The U.S. government is working with all levels of Congolese society to end human trafficking in the DRC and ensure Congolese children are free to pursue the educational and economic opportunities they deserve.”
Trafficking in persons – defined by the UN as forced labor and sexual exploitation of children and adults – is a global crime and illegal under Congolese law. Recently, the Congolese government has taken important steps to mitigate child trafficking, including through efforts to repatriate trafficking victims and convict officials involved in child soldier recruitment. Significant work, however, remains, and the United States is committed to working with Congolese partners to improve local capacity to protect children and others from becoming victims.
Since 2002, the U.S. government has invested over $2 million to support efforts to train officials, improve the anti-trafficking legal framework, and raise awareness of the damage trafficking in children and other vulnerable populations causes to the Congolese economy and society. In addition to funding training for officials in Kinshasa, the U.S. government will fund similar trainings in Lubumbashi from November 25 to 29 and Matadi from December 9 to 13.