By Badylon Kawanda Bakiman
In kikwit, an economic and political city in the Kwilu province and a cosmopolitan city of one million inhabitants located in the southwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations structure, as well as the Agency for the Prevention and Fight against Trafficking in Persons (APLTP), a specialized service attached to the Presidency of the Republic, have just called on the NGDOs (Non-Governmental Human Rights Organizations) to denounce cases related to trafficking in persons and to ensure the accompaniment of victims.
This call took place on May 6, 2022 during a joint meeting that took place in the office of CANACU (Community of Friends of Nature and Culture) in the commune of Lukolela.
In addition to the NGOs, the mixed meeting also received the heads of the urban offices of Social Affairs, Gender, Family and Child, social workers as well as members of the IOM and APLTP delegation from Kinshasa, the capital.
“The situation of human trafficking has increased in the DRC including the city of Kikwit. Many of the cases of sexual violence in the DRC are often equated with human trafficking. Cases of forced begging, forced marriage and child trafficking have also been documented. These indicators show that the phenomenon is growing,” said Ely Thélot, technical adviser during an interview with the press.
Dr. Thélot underlined a fact in these terms: “At the level of the IOM, we are concerned about human trafficking. We do not limit ourselves only to organizing training or raising awareness, but we also have a particular focus on accompanying and protecting victims through social reintegration activities, family reunification and judicial follow-up. We have learned from the field that there are cases of human trafficking, that this is prosecuted and that the victims have needs,” he said.
For her part, Laurette Musangu, assistant in charge of victim support and protection within the APLTP, insisted on the need to work in collaboration and to be serious about investigating and denouncing.
“We came to Kikwit for two reasons. Firstly, to accompany the victims of trafficking, and secondly, to follow up on the protection of the victims, which protection includes social, medical and judicial aspects. It was also a question of meeting the front line actors to make contact and to refocus our interventions as well as the management of the cases of victims of trafficking in persons.
She stated that the agency currently has a standard procedure for referral of victims of trafficking. It was therefore necessary to recall the role and scope of intervention of each stakeholder. These actors are called to work in synergy.
“They promised us to continue the same work. They proved it around a first case worked in synergy, effort that allowed the agency and its technical and financial partners “IOM-USAID” to reintegrate and reunify victims of trafficking in persons in Kwilu province. We expect them to be more committed to the fight against human trafficking,” she added.
On its website, IOM says that with 165 member states, eight other states with observer status and offices in more than 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does this by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. It works to help ensure the humane and orderly management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to help find practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced persons.
As for the APLTP, created in 2019 by a presidential order, is the competent service for the prevention, awareness, the fight against the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, the identification of perpetrators of these acts, the follow-up of their tradition in justice until their conviction as well as the protection of victims of acts falling under the definition of trafficking in human beings. It participates in the dismantling of the networks linked to this phenomenon; ensures the follow-up and contributes to the conception and elaboration of the public policy in this matter.