Senior officials representing United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund (UNVTF) for victims of human trafficking Tuesday shared success stories and urged more funding for global rehabilitation projects.
Panellists said this at a high-level meeting organised by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the sidelines of the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
UNVTF Chair Benita Ferrero-Waldner who chaired the meeting, in her opening remarks, said "The objective of this discussion is to highlight major achievements of the trust fund and its challenges in the first five years of its existence.
"The event today stresses the importance of assisting victims of human trafficking not only as a humanitarian act, but a very necessary part of the overall fight against this issue." The main challenges UNVTF faces is maintaining increased and sustained financial support from UN member states, she said.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Maria Grazia Giammarinaro and civil society representatives spoke at the event.
Introducing the trust fund Fedotov said, "It helps victims to become tomorrow’s survivors, enabling them to reclaim their dignity and rebuild their lives."
The UNVTF was set up through UN General Assembly’s 2010 Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons and administrated by UNODC, he said.
Detailing the trust fund’s role, the UNODC Chief said, "It provides humanitarian, legal, financial assistance to victims. It ensures women, children and men exploited by traffickers, are identified and provided with assistance, protection and support needed for their physical, psychological and social recovery. The trust fund is also enabling survivors to seek justice in court against traffickers.
"The first three years grant cycle ended last December. A total of 11 projects in Albania, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Moldova, Israel, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria and the US received nearly US $750,000 funding," said Fedotov.
Some 2,000 victims per annum benefited from direct assistance, including provision of shelter, basic health services, vocational training, schooling as well as psychological legal and financial support. Recipients included women, he said.
The call for proposal for the second grant circle received over 100 proposals from 59 countries. UNODC identified 91 as eligible for funding and the board of trustees recommended 17 projects for grant funding of nearly US $1 Million, he said.
"The trust fund reviewed and approved grants for projects located in Albania, Brundi, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam." Only these 17 projects could be funded with the money available with the Fund.
The board recommended keeping 54 projects on reserve list should more funding be available, Fedotov said.
Since it was established the fund has received just over US $2 Million in paid contributions from 19 member states and 30 donors from private sector and individuals, he said.
UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Maria Grazia Giammarinaro gave background of her mandate that is based on human rights, and explained why assistance to victims trafficking is crucial.
"Assistance to victims of human rights violations is crucial in two fundamental respects. First, it is an integral process in offering full access to an effective remedy for victims, including rehabilitation, reintegration and redress for any harm committed against them as a mother of rights.
"Secondly, assistance is essential to prevent re-victimization and re-trafficking of victims and for prosecuting traffickers," she said.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from Nepal and Nigeria shared their success stories, challenges and psycho-social issues involved in rehabilitating victims of human trafficking as well as raising funds for their work.