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US supports anti-human trafficking efforts in two northern provinces

The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) Laos Counter Trafficking in persons (Laos CTIP) Project has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to work with the northern provinces of Oudomxay and Luang Namtha for the countering human trafficking.

The MOU was signed by Director General of the Social Welfare Department Vongkham Phathanouvong and Chief of Party for the Laos CTIP Project Xoukiet Panyanouvong on Jan 11, 2023 in Vientiane in the presence of Vice Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Leepao Yang and U.S. Charge d’Affaires Shannon Farrell.

Laos and the United States government cooperation has enhanced the understanding of child protection network members in villages on referral and protection of at-risk population and victims, and increased skills and employability of the victims and vulnerable population through vocational training and subsequent support for jobs and business start-up.

Funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International, the Laos CTIP project reduces vulnerability to human trafficking for at-risk populations and victims and has been operational in four southern and central provinces since 2020.

Further, the project raises the awareness of the public, particularly youth, on the risk of trafficking and how to report cases through development of innovative information, education and communications materials and campaigns including cartoon animation.

The project is now expanding its efforts to the two northern provinces that are challenged by human trafficking. The project also supports Lao government’s counter-trafficking efforts for coordination, victim identification, provisions of quality services, and prevention through enhancing access to economic opportunities and by raising awareness.

Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Leepao Yang said: In order to solve the problem of human trafficking, party and government focus on creating anti-blocking tool, help the victims, proceedings against the perpetrators, establish a local and national anti-trafficking committee, establish a children’s court, a child protection network, and a center to provide assistance to children and women who are victims of human trafficking.

Charge d’Affaires Shannon Farrell thanked to the Government of Laos for its continued partnership with the United States to end human trafficking. “Ending trafficking in persons continues to be the priority for the United States. Building on successful efforts by the Laos CTIP Project, we are confident that the government of Laos, together with Winrock International, development partners, non-profit organizations and private sectors can enhance prevention and protection of human trafficking in northern Laos,” said Charge d’Affaires Shannon Farrell. “The United States is committed to an enhanced partnership to support Laos in this effort and advance the implementation of the latest National Plan of Action on Anti-human trafficking.

Charge d’Affaires Shannon Farrell said: Despite such efforts, 142 victims of trafficking in persons were identified in Laos in 2021. Since the Covid-19 pandemic and temporary closures of borders, patterns and pictures of migrations and trafficking have noticeably changed, but people have still fallen to human trafficking.

The impact of the post-pandemic economic challenges are again changing the patterns of migration and trafficking. Anti-human trafficking, prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships are more important than ever said Charge d’Affaires Shannon Farrell.

The project will be funded with a package of US$800,000 and implemented through 30 September 2024.

Source: Lao News Agency