EU supports Immigration Dept. with IPC materials for border crossing points

The Ambassador of the European Union and the Minister of Social Welfare have handed Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) materials for COVID-19 to the Immigration Department on Tuesday 7th July 2020. “COVID-19 knows no borders, but neither do exploitation and trafficking. Closing borders might help in containing the spread of COVID-19 but does not suffice to stop human trafficking,” the EU local office said.

These IPC materials will be delivered to 26 official border-crossing points in Kailahun, Kambia, Koinadugu and Pujehun districts to strengthen disease infection, prevention and control and contain the spread of the Coronavirus across and within border communities. According to the EU, even during the COVID-19 pandemic the combined efforts of partners engaged in the fight against trafficking in person must continue and intensify.

The EU said at a time of crisis, vulnerability increases exponentially. The systems designed to support victims of trafficking can break down as limited resources are redirected to fighting the pandemic. Closing borders to suppress COVID-19 infections may seem to discourage trafficking. “In fact we should be worried about the opposite, it could drive traffickers to new routes and the socioeconomic impact of the crisis brings vulnerability and exploitation, especially of young girls, to new heights,” said Ambassador Tom Vens.

“As European Union, we are proud to be able to partner with GOAL and World Hope International, the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, in the fight against child labour, human trafficking and indecent work across Sierra Leone.” Together we seek to reduce the prevalence and acceptance of child labour and human trafficking and promote decent work and human rights for women and youth in the informal sector.

Since 2017, the EU has joined hands in monitoring and advocacy, provision of training to law enforcement staff, immigration officers, union leaders and communities at large, engagement and establishment of community structures to support the victims of exploitation. At this time of COVID-19, this also means enhancing national authorities’ infection, prevention and control capacities, notably at border posts.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque