Lilongwe, 13 June 2022 (TDI): The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has uncovered the widespread exploitation of men, women, and children in the form of human trafficking at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.

The organization is now collaborating with the local police to bring the responsible to justice. According to UNODC representative Maxwell Matewere, the situation was much worse than what was first envisaged.

His first visit to the camp was in 2020 for the training of camp staff and law enforcement officers to detect and respond to trafficking issues.

Until now, UNDOC has mentored 28 camp officials and law enforcement officers acting in identifying and investigating trafficking cases. Additionally, these people also train other colleagues at police stations and border crossing posts.

Furthermore, he described the dire situation of a Sunday market that people regularly visited to sell and purchase children of forced labor and prostitution.

human trafficking
Victims of trafficking studying during their stay in a safe house in Malawi.
New Anti-trafficking Procedure 

Currently, the UNDOC has developed descriptive guidelines for the victims’ identification, rescue, and referral. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have extended their maximum support for implementing these guidelines.

Meanwhile, 90 victims of human trafficking have been identified and rescued. Most of the victims are from Ethiopia, aged between 18-30. Girls aged between 12-24 from Ethiopia, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are also included.

According to the Field Protection Associate at UNHCR’s Malawi office, Owen Nyasulu, the organization, and its partners will never give up on its efforts to stop and scourge of human trafficking and smuggling among refugees in Malawi.

Further, the victims are being assisted to return to their respective countries. Others have requested to return to the camp to seek asylum.

In addition, the new guidelines contain a complete procedure for transferring victims to authorities where they can receive appropriate care and attention.

Victims are referred to the safe houses for safety and security. Earlier before the intervention by UNODC,  they were placed in prison cells along with the criminals, remarked Matewere.

Furthermore, people are told they must pay off the debts incurred from smuggling into Malawi. People undergo forced labor or exploitation inside regions or are transported to other parts of the country.

They are exploited there or transported to other countries in the region for forced labor. So far, there have been five arrests, and the cases are ongoing. The suspected traffickers are from Malawi, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, and DRC.