By Jane Morse
IIP Staff Writer, Washington
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a plan to intensify its efforts to combat human trafficking.
At a February 23 press conference at the White House, Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator, announced the new agency policy that, among other goals, will:
• More closely scrutinize the activities of its employees, contractors and subcontractors for any involvement with human trafficking.
• Increase collaboration with government and nongovernment colleagues to combat human trafficking.
• More stringently evaluate the effectiveness of USAID countertrafficking programs.
• Employ technological advances such as mobile phones and social networks to reach trafficking victims and help them find help.
According to estimates provided by USAID, human trafficking for cheap labor and sexual exploitation ensnares anywhere from 12 million to 27 million people worldwide and represents a $32 billion criminal business. The most vulnerable to trafficking are the poor, uneducated, and people living in conflict-ridden countries.
To combat enslavement, the U.S. government since 2001 has provided approximately $528 million for countertrafficking assistance overseas. USAID has been a major part of this effort, providing more than $163 million in assistance to more than 70 countries.
USAID, an independent government agency, supports U.S. foreign policy goals by providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world. While USAID programs do reach vulnerable populations, the agency’s new policy seeks to have its missions overseas more deeply integrate countertrafficking efforts into every aspect of their work and develop cooperative programs with governments as well as nongovernmental and faith-based organizations, according to Shah.
USAID’s new policy, Shah said, “provides guidance on pursuing more effective, efficient and evidence-based approaches in countertrafficking.”