USAID Central Asia Exposure features: “Combating Human Trafficking In Central Asia”
The USAID Safe Migration in Central Asia (SMICA) activity’s work with partners to prevent trafficking, protect survivors and promote safe migration was featured on USAID’s Central Asia Exposure page on August 19, 2021. “Combating Human Trafficking In Central Asia” spotlights the contributions and impacts of three important local civil society organizations partnering with SMICA, implemented by Winrock, and other USAID projects.
The Exposure piece notes that Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan have all been listed as “Tier 2” countries in the U.S. Department of State’s (DoS’s) most recent (2021) Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP) Report. The annual report identifies developmental shifts in human trafficking across the globe. The three Central Asian countries were listed previously on the Department’s Tier 2 Watch List, a ranking that indicates significant efforts towards compliance, but which did not meet DoS’s minimum standards. Tier 1 is the top-ranking and Tier 3 is the lowest.
The Exposure article tells the story of these encouraging results and describes the journeys of several change-making women leaders working with SMICA and other USAID projects on TIP and related issues. These women are Shakhnoza Khassanova, director of the Legal Center for Women’s Initiatives, “Sana Sezim” in Kazakhstan; Nurzhan Tulegabylova, director of the Public Fund “El Agartuu” in the Kyrgyz Republic; and Nazifa Kamalova, who heads a non-governmental organization (NGO) called “Istiglol Avlodi” in Uzbekistan.
“While we have more recorded victims of human trafficking today than we did a decade ago, it doesn’t mean things are getting worse. Quite the contrary, it’s a reflection of better identification and reporting,” said Khassanova, who was among eight people honored for their contributions in the 2021 TIP report.
Sana Sezim plays a part by offering shelters and support services for TIP victims. El Agartuu started a national database of 40 NGOs helping the counter-trafficking movement and is recognized by the Kyrgyz government to provide referrals for assistance to survivors. Istiglol Avlodi partners with SMICA to co-lead training for anti-trafficking NGOs in Uzbekistan.
With its partners, SMICA is increasing awareness about support services for migrants and TIP victims, reaching over a million people with an on-the-ground and online campaign in July 2021.
“Thanks to informational campaigns by NGOs supported by USAID and state partners, we are seeing a decline in the number of forced laborers and victims of sexual exploitation,” Kamalova said.
Read the full Exposure story here.