UN Study Finds Returned Trafficking Victims Get Little Support

The majority of human trafficking victims from Cambodia and other regional countries do not receive appropriate assistance and care, impeding their ability to reintegrate into society, a report released by the U.N.’s Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and re­gional governments found.

Half of the 252 interviewees—62 of them trafficked Cambodians—received no assistance from NGOs or authorities in their destination countries and an additional 20 percent did not receive any counseling, vocational training, grants or legal education once they had returned to their respective hometowns.

Sek Sophal, program manager with the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR), which assisted in the research for the study, After Traf­ficking: Experiences and Challenges in the (Re)integration of Trafficked Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub­region, said that assistance was vital to prevent repeat trafficking.

“It is very important to help them because Cambodia is very poor and most of the victims are very poor. If we don’t help them, then they will migrate again and have the same problems again,” Mr. Sophal said.

In two shelters located along the Vietnamese and Thai borders, CCPCR was currently assisting about 100 victims of human trafficking, mostly children, Mr. Sophal said.

In June, The U.S. State Department downgraded Cambodia from Tier 2, where it had placed for the past three years, to the Tier 2 Watch List in its annual Global Trafficking in Persons Report, which said that only 44 perpetrators were convicted in the country in 2012.

The government, however, said that 300 were convicted and a total of 458 victims were rescued, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs figures.

Rebecca Surtees, the author of the UNIAP study, which was released Monday, said that despite organizations trying to help victims of human trafficking, many victims are never identified as such or wanted to return to their hometowns, where services were not available.

“In addition, many trafficked persons do not know that they are entitled to assistance and how to access this support which means they do not always have the means to seek out and look for support,” Ms. Sur­tees said in an email Tuesday.

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