US launches new initiative to help counter trafficking in persons
VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The United States has made a new commitment to support Laos to end human trafficking and has partnered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to launch a new three-year Laos Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) programme.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the project was signed in Vientiane on Monday.
The event was chaired by the Director General of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare’s Social Welfare Department, Mr Vilayphong Sysomvang, and Chief of Party for the USAID-funded CTIP programme, Dr Xoukiet Panyanouvong, who also signed the MOU.
Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs Baykham Khattiya, and the US Ambassador to Laos, Ms Rena Bitter, witnessed the signing.
The signing marks the start of the US$2.3 million programme, which is funded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Ambassador Bitter said that ending human trafficking was a top priority for the United States, and a goal that is shared with Lao counterparts.
“We are proud to support the Lao government in its effort to prevent human trafficking and we continue to invest in our commitment to a strong, prosperous, and independent Laos,” she added. The Laos CTIP programme complements the Lao government’s counter-trafficking in persons efforts by strengthening authorities’ response to human trafficking cases, reducing the vulnerability of women, children and marginalised people to trafficking, and improving trafficking victims’ access to services and economic opportunities.
Implemented by Winrock International, the project will be carried out in Vientiane, and Savannakhet, Champassak, and Saravan provinces. In addition to combating human trafficking, the United States works in partnership with the government and citizens of Laos to improve education, promote health and nutrition, remove unexploded ordnance as a barrier to development, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the rule of law.
USAID Laos Counter Trafficking in Persons (USAID Laos CTIP) is a five-year project funded by the US Agency for International Development to reduce vulnerability to human trafficking among targeted populations by supporting vocational training and employment opportunities among these vulnerable groups. Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women, children and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour.
Lao trafficking victims, especially from the south of the country, are often migrants seeking opportunities abroad who then experience labour or sexual exploitation in destination countries - most often Thailand, as well as Indonesia and China.
USAID Laos CTIP also works with law enforcement officers to support the provision of job skills for the survivors of human trafficking to prevent them falling prey to traffickers yet again.