Eastern Africa

Trafficking in persons is an ongoing phenomenon throughout Eastern Africa. Trafficking is not only transnational. Internal trafficking is also endemic. Children, women and, to a lesser extent, men are victims of trafficking in, from and to the region. 

Girls are trafficked for exploitation in domestic labour, forced prostitution and forced marriage. Trafficked boys are exploited in areas such as farming, livestock, plantation work and fishing. Women are trafficked for domestic labour, forced prostitution and the hospitality industry. Men are trafficked mainly for manual and agriculture labour, construction work and criminal activities. 

Internal trafficking in children and women, from rural and urban areas, is mainly for exploitative domestic work and commercial sex. However, transnational trafficking of women to other African countries, Europe and the Middle East is mainly for sexual exploitation and domestic work. 

Statistics from a study on child trafficking in Eastern African countries show that the majority of trafficked children are those who have completed primary or secondary education and have nothing to do. Moreover, most of the children are trafficked by people they know (in some cases, by relatives). The most vulnerable age is 13-18 years. HIV/AIDS has also contributed to the trafficking phenomenon; the majority of trafficked children are orphans. African society is a changing one; traditional fostering practices have led to the abuse of fostered children, who are often sold for profit.         

What?    UN.GIFT regional event for Eastern Africa

Where?  Uganda

When?   19-22 June 2007

Who?      Government officials, as well as representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations from the 11 countries of the Eastern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, the Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania

Why?       To raise awareness, develop a regional action plan, develop recommendaions and strengthen partnerships to combat human trafficking, focusing particulary on conflict and post-conflict countires

Regional meeting report (PDF)

Speeches and interviews

Western and Central Africa 

Traffickers pocket substantial criminal proceeds from various forms of victim exploitation. In Western and Central Africa, victims are predominantly women and children who live in the harshest conditions of vulnerability. Armed conflict, socio-political instability, bad governance, environmental stress and disaster drastically increase the vulnerability of children to trafficking for a variety of exploitative purposes, including their recruitment and abuse in situations of armed conflict and war. 

When looking at the entire region, three major trafficking trends, two of which are transnational, can be identified: 

• Children who are trafficked within the region for the purpose of labour exploitation

• Women and girls who are trafficked both within and out of the region for sexual exploitation 

• Large-scale internal trafficking, which takes place within the borders of a State 

Several countries in the region are both origin and destination countries for women and girls who are trafficked for sexual exploitation. The main destinations outside the region are Western Europe, Southern Africa and the Middle East. 

Patterns of internal trafficking within the region often remain hidden behind the issues of transnational trafficking. Conflict, poverty, and HIV/AIDS leave adults and especially children vulnerable to trafficking within their own national borders. General trends within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) include trafficking from rural to urban and industrial areas for employment and sexual exploitation. Larger farming and fishing communities in fertile lands and along coastal areas also receive large numbers of internally trafficked persons for labour.

What?    UN.GIFT regional event for Western and Central Africa

Where?  Côte d'Ivoire

When?   26-28 November 2007

Who?     High-level representatives from countries in Western and Central Africa

Why?     To formulate measures for the establishment of harmonized legal frameworks against the phenomenon of child trafficking for their exploitation in armed conflicts.

Regional meeting report (PDF)



What?    The League of Arab States (LAS) workshop on: The Status of Arab legislation on Trafficking and Mechanisms of Fighting Trafficking in Persons

Where?  Egypt

When?   28 October 2007

Who?     Representatives from the Ministries of Justice from the various countries in the region

Why?     To provide first hand information on how far countries have progressed in combating trafficking in persons with a specific focus on legislation. A regional action plan to combat human trafficking was discussed in the context of having a unified vision by Arab States and an Arab Action Plan to fight human trafficking.


South Africa

What?    UN.GIFT Global Interfaith Forum 

Where?  South Africa

When?   3-5 October 2007

Who?     High-level representatives from faith-based organizations

Why?     To explore what the religious community can do to combat human trafficking

The Cape Town Declaration