Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. on IOM Training on Providing Support to TIP Victims

Remarks by

U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. 

IOM Training on Providing Support to TIP Victims

Monday, February 25, 2018

(Holiday Inn, Harare) 


Officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare

Officials from the International Organization for Migration

Members of the Press

(Others for Protocol Order)


Good morning to you all.  It is a pleasure to be with you today to launch the International Organization for Migration’s training to enhance support to victims of human trafficking.

I know that many of you have been selflessly serving those in need through your work in both government affiliated and non-governmental shelters across the country.  Thank you for all your efforts in protecting those who so desperately need it.

I am confident this training will better equip you to assist survivors of human trafficking, and I commend you for recommitting yourselves to helping your communities.

Trafficking in persons is modern day slavery.  We should not sugarcoat it.  It is the exploitation of men, women, and children through acts of violence or threats of violence, manipulation and psychological control.

Human trafficking has become a 150 billion dollar industry that touches millions of lives across the globe and occurs in every country of the world, including in the United States and in Zimbabwe.  Trafficking is a hidden crime, making it extremely difficult to quantify; however, there are an estimated 20 million victims that we know of.  The majority of those victims worldwide are women and girls.

Given the scale of the problem, it will take a global effort to effectively combat it and we all have much work to do.  To start, we can achieve a great deal by raising awareness through programs aimed at warning vulnerable populations of the risks of trafficking.  Efforts by governments to prosecute trafficking offenders are also critical.

Throughout our efforts, we must never forget the victims.  The young child, separated from family, who is forced into commercial sex.  The single woman, moving from a rural community into the city, who is trapped in an abusive relationship as a domestic servant.  The promises of legitimate work in the Middle East, which turn out to be exploitative situations radically different from what was promised.   These are the individuals who deserve our greatest attention and care.

This important work – of protecting those in our society who have become the targets of exploitation – is fundamental to any larger strategy aimed at stamping out the scourge that is human trafficking.

That is why the United States has partnered with Zimbabwe and the International Organization for Migration to provide this training to all of you, who are serving as front-line responders in the fight against human trafficking.  This training will help you better understand the rights of trafficking victims and how to provide them with specialized, victim-centered services to support them in their rehabilitation.

It is a top priority of the United States’ to eradicate this global scourge in the 21st Century.  I would like to thank the Government of Zimbabwe, particularly the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, as well as Musasa, the International Organization for Migration, and others here today for joining us as we set out to reach that ambitious goal.

It is important to note that even in difficult times, when our governments have not always seen eye to eye, that we have found common ground in addressing this horrific problem that preys on the most vulnerable in our communities.  We appreciate the close cooperation that we have enjoyed with the Government of Zimbabwe on this issue.

And, finally, for those of you charged with protecting survivors, we salute you.  You are doing for these survivors what no one else can do and are, without question, making a difference and impacting lives for the better.