Afghanistan Launches National Referral Mechanism and Online Database to Combat Human Trafficking


Kabul – Afghanistan, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IOM, has launched a National Referral Mechanism and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Online Database to strengthen counter-trafficking protection measures in the country.

Participants at Sunday’s (16/12) Kabul launch included Afghan government officials from the High Level Trafficking in Persons Commission, representatives of counter-trafficking-related national and international NGOs, UN agencies and media. 

“By passing a new trafficking law, finalizing the national referral mechanism and developing an online database of victims, we have created a good foundation to respond to human trafficking in a more comprehensive way. I hope this will assist victims of trafficking with services they deserve,’’ said Afghan Justice Minister and the Chair of the TIP High Commission Dr. Abdul Basir Anwar. “All stakeholders in Afghanistan need to work together to protect victims and prosecute traffickers,” he noted. 

USAID Acting Deputy Mission Director Elizabeth Chambers told delegates that women, men and children from economically marginalized communities are at the greatest risk of trafficking in Afghanistan. 

“Trafficking in persons affects the most vulnerable in our societies, particularly women and youth.  USAID and the US government will continue to stand with the Afghan people against these horrific practices that undermine the rule of law, corrupt global commerce, foster gender inequality and threaten global security,” she said. 

IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission and Special Envoy Laurence Hart noted that due to the absence of a centralized national database and referral mechanism, counter-trafficking stakeholders in Afghanistan are often not able to identify, refer and assist the victims of trafficking properly. 

“This national referral mechanism and online database will help the Afghan government strengthen protection measures and effectively implement the new law to combat the trafficking and smuggling of people,” he said. 

The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 noted that Afghanistan is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sexual exploitation. More internal than cross-border trafficking occurs in Afghanistan. But in recent years IOM has observed a steady increase in young women trafficked to Afghanistan from neighboring countries, notably Pakistan. 

Most Afghan victims of trafficking are women and children. While women are subjected to sexual and non-sexual exploitation, children are largely trafficked to work in carpet weaving and brick factories, domestic servitude, as bacha bazi (dancing boys) or for forced begging. Victims are often sold by economically desperate families or kidnapped. As elsewhere, traffickers frequently subject their victims to coercion, violence and emotional abuse. Once abroad, traffickers usually confiscate their victims’ travel documents, highlighting the importance of trans-border cooperation to identify and assist victims. 

For more information please contact Eva Schwoerer at IOM Afghanistan. Tel: + 93 729 229 129.  Email:

  • Afghan, USAID and IOM officials launch the National Referral Mechanism and TIP Online Database in Kabul. Photo: IOM.