The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

UN Interagency Project on Trafficking of Women and Children in the Mekong Sub-region

The UN Inter-agency Project, established in 1999, aims to reduce human trafficking in the Mekong Region by strengthening co-ordination, identifying and filling gaps in regional programmes and adding value to existing initiatives.

It will do this by:

  • Supporting community-based initiatives on prevention, recovery and reintegration to assist women and children who are at risk of, or have been trafficked;
  • Stimulating dialogue, information collection and sharing, and coordinated action on sub-regional, cross-border, national and local levels; and
  • Increasing national capacity and sub-regional cooperation to strengthen legislation, policies and enforcement of laws to respond to trafficking.

The United Nations Foundation has contributed US$2.3 million in grant funding to the project. The Government of Australia has committed an additional A$800,000 (US$520,000).

The Project Management Office is based in Bangkok and the Project also supports National Project Coordinators in each country: Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

With many agencies involved, development of the institutional structures for the project has required much consultation and preparatory work. Establishment of National Project Committees in all six countries is now almost complete. These Committees, which include Government, non-government and UN partners, will promote dialogue on trafficking issues, oversee development of strategic responses and coordinate action. Project staff, in the form of National Project Coordinators are in place in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand and under recruitment in China and Viet Nam. The Project Management Office in Bangkok is also up and running.

Initial activities in each country include a participatory mapping exercise of existing and planned trafficking activities; as well as a stocktaking and assessment of needs, priorities and capacities in combating trafficking in women and children. These activities will provide the basis for establishing detailed strategic interventions at local, national and regional level over the following two years.

The preparatory process is being complemented, using a flexible approach which allows prompt, effective assistance in areas of specific and immediate need.

For example, the project has provided emergency assistance to allow follow-up support for trafficking victims returned from Thailand to Myanmar, as well as supporting television programmes about the realities and dangers of working in foreign countries. These programmes have already had an effect in generating calls to the Hotline Foundation in Thailand from young women reconsidering their plans to travel abroad.

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