Free the Slaves is spreading the word among international development and humanitarian relief organizations about the critical need for anti-trafficking efforts following natural disasters.
The latest briefing occurred this month in Washington at InterAction, which is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations who focus on disaster relief and sustainable development programs.
Free the Slaves Programs Director Karen Stauss began the discussion by emphasizing the wide-ranging benefits of including slavery in development efforts where gender-based violence and child protection problems already exist. Human rights abuses increase drastically in these places during natural, medical or financial shocks. Vulnerable communities are at a greater risk during these challenging times, especially when villagers don’t know their rights or aren’t aware that help might be nearby.
Karen highlighted best practice recommendations developed by Free the Slaves and our partners in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
“Distributing trafficking prevention information along with blankets at relief spots can fulfill a person’s immediate needs as well as prevent a future exploitive situation” Karen said.
The advice was well received by those attending the briefing.
“This has been very helpful in aiding to tailor our humanitarian response better and train first responders working in disasters to recognize the indicators of trafficking,” said Greg Hermsmeyer, the U.S. State Department’s senior coordinator of international programs in the Office to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Read the full report about safeguarding the vulnerable from slavery after natural disasters here.