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Global Protection Cluster

Human Trafficking
The Issue

Trafficking in persons (also called human trafficking) is a crime, a grave violation of human rights and in many cases, a form of gender-based violence. Crisis contexts can exacerbate pre-existing trafficking trends and give rise to new ones.

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In crisis contexts, traffickers capitalize on the widespread human, material, social and economic distress caused by the emergency. A number of factors make people more vulnerable to trafficking, including the hampered ability of families and communities to provide for their basic needs; limited options to seek domestic or international protection safely and regularly; negative coping mechanisms adopted by those affected by the crisis; erosion of the rule of law; and the breakdown of social safety nets and other social protection systems.  

Women, men, girls and boys, are vulnerable to different forms of trafficking. For more information, read the Introductory Guide to Anti-Trafficking Action in Internal Displacement Contexts (2020).  

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The Approach 

Trafficking is a complex crime that currently does not have a clear, at-scale, predictable response in the humanitarian system. 

The Global Protection Cluster is working to ensure that people delivering protection, including partners and governments, are:  

  • Aware of the trafficking phenomenon and raise awareness among colleagues on the ground;  

  • Understand the vulnerabilities that can put people at risk of becoming victims of trafficking;  

  • Understand how to prevent people from being trafficked and protect and assist people who are trafficked.   

National Protection Clusters take a primary role in coordinating the response to trafficking, much in the same manner that it coordinates responses to other rights violations. There is no standard practice for coordinating anti-trafficking interventions; but they can include coordination during protection cluster meetings, or through the establishment of an anti-trafficking working group reporting to the protection cluster coordinator.  

When the identified trends and cases of trafficking in persons are disproportionately affecting women and/or children – therefore requiring stronger responses by GBV and/or child protection actors – coordination might take place under the relevant areas of responsibility (AoRs). Regardless of the forum in which coordination takes place, the response needs to be closely coordinated with the GBV and CP AoRs to ensure that victims of trafficking are referred to relevant response services (case management and specialized response services) and included in referral pathways and standard operating procedures. The protection cluster coordinator should work with the relevant AoR coordinators and partners to identify the most appropriate coordination structure for the context. The priority is to ensure that trafficking in persons is included in protection assessments, relevant humanitarian strategies and the humanitarian programming cycle, and that victims of trafficking receive timely and effective assistance.