Human trafficking continues to scourge South Africa and the rest of the continent, even in the face of COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to an Interpol official.
Africa faces unique challenges with human trafficking and South Africa is a destination for one of the four major, multidimensional human commodity trade routes. Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock says the land route for human trafficking from the Horn of Africa to South Africa continues to show signs of worrying activity.
“Human trafficking, whether for sexual or labour exploitation, is already complex to detect in ‘normal’ times. The novel coronavirus pandemic has only pushed human trafficking deeper into the dark and its victims further from possible detection and assistance,” said Stock, as reported by IOL.
However, South Africa is just one of countless African nations that have been plagued with a human trafficking crisis and it is estimated that 9.24 million people in Africa are enslaved, meaning the continent plays home to 23% of the global slave population. All of the countries in North Africa serve as source, transit and destination countries for trade in human commodity.
According to the 2019 ENACT Organised Crime Index, human trafficking is also prevalent in Libya, Sudan, Nigeria Eritrea and DRC. It is less prevalent is Sao Tome and Principe, Mauritius, Cabo Verde, Namibia and Lesotho
Head of the African Union’s labour, employment, migration and social affairs department, Sabelo Mbokazi, has said that combatting human trafficking is high on the AU’s priority list.
“We have identified North Africa as one of the active corridors where the scourge has increased, therefore the AU has established what is called the AU-Horn of Africa initiative, this is to work with countries in the horn of Africa and come up with policies that can help combat human trafficking,” he said. “We are also establishing Africa’s operation centre in Khartoum Sudan, this centre will collect data from across the continent.”