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USAID project to reduce vulnerability to human trafficking
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the launch of the Laos Counter Trafficking in Persons (Laos CTIP) Project.
The project is funded by USAID and will be implemented by Winrock International. The project aims to reduce vulnerability to human trafficking for at-risk populations and victims and has been operational in four southern and central provinces since 2020.

CMr Vongkham Phathanouvong (centre left) and development partners display a signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Now the project is expanding its efforts to the northern provinces of Oudomxay and Luang Namtha, which are also challenged by human trafficking.
The MOU was signed by the Director General of the Social Welfare Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Vongkham Phathanouvong, and Chief of Party for the Laos CTIP Project, Dr Xoukiet Panyanouvong.
Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Mr Leepao Yang said the government has policies in place to protect victims of human trafficking. People identified as trafficking victims can receive help from the government, including accommodation at a shelter and compensation provided through USAID funding.
In addition, various mechanisms have been established to support office work and prevent human trafficking, while national and international humanitarian committees, children’s committees, mediation units, and police units have been created to help deal with the problem, support victims and protect children in particular.
A hotline to help children and women who are victims of violence has also been set up.
Emphasis is also being placed on strengthening the personnel responsible for the work of the Human Rights Office training camp and a public relations campaign to disseminate the relevant laws in local communities.
The project will also support the government’s counter-trafficking efforts in coordination, victim identification, provision of quality services, and prevention through enhancing access to economic opportunities and by raising awareness.
Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy to Laos, Ms Shannon Farrell, thanked the Lao government for its continued partnership with the United States to end human trafficking.
“Ending trafficking in persons continues to be a priority for the United States. Building on successful efforts by the Laos CTIP Project, we are confident that the government, together with Winrock International, development partners, non-profit organisations, and the private sector, can enhance the prevention of human trafficking in northern Laos,” Ms Farrell said.
“The United States is committed to an enhanced partnership to support Laos in this effort and advance the implementation of the latest National Plan of Action on Anti-Human Trafficking.”
To date, the Laos CTIP has enhanced the understanding of Child Protection Network members in villages on the referral and protection of at-risk people and victims, and increased the skills and employability of victims and vulnerable populations through vocational training and subsequent support for jobs and business start-up.
Further, the project has raised awareness among the general public, particularly among young people, of the risk of trafficking and how to report cases through the development of innovative information, education and communications materials and campaigns including cartoon animation.
The United States partners with the Lao government to strengthen its response to human trafficking cases; reduce the vulnerability of women, children, and marginalised people to trafficking; and improve trafficking victims’ access to services and safe economic opportunities, according to a press release from USAID.
The new phase of the project will support migrants and at-risk persons through innovative livelihood and skill-building opportunities, reducing the incentive to seek risky livelihood opportunities far from home.
It will also build on the government’s anti-trafficking initiatives and bolster the holistic provision of services to the survivors of human trafficking.

By Phetphopxay Sengpaseuth
 (Latest Update January 12, 2023)


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