IOM Yemen Marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Yemen - IOM Yemen this week marked the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, which takes place on July 30, by hosting a counter trafficking conference in the capital, Sana’a.

Over 300 participants took part in the event to debate trafficking issues in Yemen, particularly child trafficking. Speakers highlighted the need for agencies to act in partnership to protect human rights and improve assistance to victims.

Yemen’s economic and social turmoil of the past 15 months has helped smugglers and traffickers to exploit vulnerable victims. It has created an attractive climate for organized criminal groups to earn billions of dollars from trafficking and extortion.

IOM Yemen has worked with the Yemeni government to build counter trafficking capacity since 2007. It has offered support in developing and implementing counter-trafficking measures and improving cooperation between different agencies in the country.

IOM data reflects important progress made in recent years in the field of counter-trafficking. For example it is now widely recognized that men are also victims of trafficking and that trafficking does not always involve sexual exploitation. Most victims assisted by IOM globally (85 percent) were trafficked across borders.

Victims assisted by IOM in 2015 had been trafficked for an average of three years – although some had been enslaved for up to 25 years. Approximately 13 percent of the IOM cases – one in eight – were children. Among the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation, nearly one in five were children. Among victims exploited for labour, four percent were children.

Based on these analyses, IOM Yemen launched surveys in two important areas. The first examined the rising number of marriages of young Yemeni girls to foreigners. It showed that many of these marriages were in fact a form of human trafficking. This led to calls for legislation to ban the practice. Awareness raising campaigns and broad media coverage resulted in a decrease in the practice in some areas.

A second survey was carried out to better understand the exploitation of migrants in qat farming in the region of Rada’a. It found that working conditions (food and housing) for migrant Ethiopian and Yemeni workers were similar. But due to the irregular nature of their administrative status in Yemen, Ethiopian labourers, like other migrants in the agricultural sector, were at higher risk of abuse.

The study also revealed a clear division of labour between Yemeni and non-Yemeni workers. Ethiopian migrants carried out more labour-intensive and heavier tasks. According to the study, it seems that irregular migrants are at risk of becoming victims of abuse, extortion and exploitation.

Based on the results of the surveys, IOM has offered its support to the government in areas including victim protection, prevention activities focusing on child exploitation, and capacity building.

For further information, please contact Ahlam Al Masany at IOM Yemen, Tel. +967 736800296, Email: