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September 25, 2018

Mombasa lures sex traffickers and victims

Paul Adhuch, director of anti-human trafficking NGO Trace Kenya, addresses Mombasa residents during the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on Tuesday/JOHN CHESOLI
Paul Adhuch, director of anti-human trafficking NGO Trace Kenya, addresses Mombasa residents during the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on Tuesday/JOHN CHESOLI

Mombasa is Kenya’s biggest human trafficking hotspot, a new report says. 

The report released in Mombasa on Monday said most victims are lured by tourism opportunities at the Coastal city.

The report on human trafficking at the Coast by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates 22 per cent of those trafficked into the region come because of tourism.

They are also lured by the ease of moving from Mombasa to Middle East for jobs. 

Nationally, Mombasa is followed by Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu, respectively.

The assessment was conducted by the IOM Kenya country office from October 2017 to February 2018. It focussed on Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties due to the increased cases of trafficking reported by media.

“Proximity to the ocean makes the target counties key international transit points and have facilitates a common destination for victims,” the report says.

“This is particularly true for forms of sexual exploitation such as forced prostitution and child pornography because the counties are popular tourism destinations.”

At 97 per cent, child trafficking has been identified as the most widespread from of exploitation in the region, followed by labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

The findings mean administrators and leaders and Coastal leaders will have to fight human trafficking, while promoting tourism.

“This report is a wake-up call,” Esther Ingolo, an official of the Mombasa county government., said

Tourism is followed by unemployment at the point of origin ( 18 per cent) as the main cause of human trafficking into the Coast region. Other factors are employment opportunities at the destination ( 17 per cent) and social and cultural practices ( 11 per cent).

Some of the victims were running away from forced child marriages.

Tanzania was identified as the leading source of trafficking victims.

It is followed by Ethiopia ( 27 per cent), Somalia ( 23 per cent), Uganda (eight per cent) then India (six per cent).

Security officials who attended report presentation said the fight against human trafficking is hampered by victims’ silence and the difficulty in proving human trafficking cases in court.

“To prove a case of human trafficking is next to impossible,” an officer only identified as Mwendo said.

He said victims in most cases are not willing to report.

He said security agencies have limited capacity among to fight the vice.

“We have a very thin staff and few controls. Corruption within our ranks is also not helping,” he said.

According to the report, launched by IOM programme  manager Etsuko Inoue, the most common route used by traffickers is Mombasa-Tana River-Garissa-Somalia.

This is followed by the Mombasa-Middle East route, where the most common destination is the United Arab Emirates. This is the destination for 28 per cent of the victims.

The UAE is followed by Saudia Arabia ( 23 per cent), Qatar ( 22 per cent), USA ( 11 per cent) and South Africa (eight per cent).

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