Unemployment, Covid-19 fuelling mass child trafficking in Malawi

High unemployment rates and effects of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are the major contributors to rising cases of human trafficking in Malawi, with Dzaleka Refugee Camp featuring as the transit for trafficking in persons in Malawi.

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Focal Person in the Ministry of Homeland Security, Kondwani Kamanga, made the sentiments during his presentation before the High Level Meeting in Ending Human Trafficking in Malawi.

The meeting, which took place at Lilongwe Hotel on Tuesday evening, was organized by the Malawi Network Against Trafficking in Persons (M-NAT) with financial support from the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) through Act Alliance.

Members of Parliament banging heads on how to contain human trafficking in Malawi–Photos by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Participants were drawn from the Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare, among others.

Kamanga disclosed that Malawi still remains a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.

He said the incidence of internal trafficking is higher than that of transnational trafficking, and practices such as forced labour exist, particularly on tobacco plantations.

“Children are trafficked primarily within the country for forced labour in agriculture, animal herding, domestic servitude, and to perform forced menial tasks for small businesses. Girls and young women are trafficked internally for forced labour and prostitution at local bars and rest houses,” he said.

The High Level Meeting in Ending Human Trafficking in Malawi in progress at Lilongwe Hotel last evening–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

Kamanga cited ignorance of trafficking in persons, unemployment, exposure to outside world and poverty as push factors that derive the crime.

On the other hand, the TIP Focal Person said demand for cheap labour and demand for commercial sex (prostitution) are the factors pulling the vice.

According to Kamanga, inadequate resources (financial, material and physical) continue to undermine government response to trafficking in persons.

“For example, victim protection remains weak, consequently victims are sometimes kept in Police cells alongside trafficking offenders; there is limited public awareness on TIP; there is limited knowledge of TIP among stakeholders including first responders, hence the reason cases of smuggling of migrants are sometimes confused with TIP,” he said.

Members of Parliament (MPs) have since pledged their support towards efforts to end the trafficking in persons by lobbying the government to allocate adequate resources to the ministry.

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