Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Haiti
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
The Department of State is actively involved in addressing the potential for trafficking in persons, particularly children, in post-earthquake Haiti.
The disaster in Haiti has displaced many people and separated numerous children from their families, posing great risk and higher vulnerability to human trafficking. The Department has acted swiftly to mobilize coordinated efforts both on the ground in Haiti and here in Washington to prevent and combat trafficking in persons as part of the USG’s emergency response and long-term planning for recovery.
The Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has been engaged on this issue prior to the earthquake and in its aftermath. While UNICEF has taken the lead role in overall child protection and safety in Haiti since the earthquake, we are working to supplement their efforts in combating child trafficking.
Currently, the Department and its partners are intensifying efforts on five different fronts, including: support for protection of vulnerable children (led by UNICEF with the government of Haiti, the Red Cross, and other international and non-governmental organizations), such as registration of unaccompanied and separated children, tracing, and family reunification; helping remobilize the Haitian Police’s Child Protection Brigades; preventing the trafficking of displaced Haitians; educating Haitians about the risks of giving away children in times of crisis; and, rebuilding the capacity of Haitian NGOs already working to protect child domestic servants, known in Haiti as restaveks.
This is just the first wave of coordinated efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake which builds on existing efforts and expertise on the ground. We are coordinating further action to be announced in the coming days.