Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Methods of Kenyan human traffickers

A human trafficking hotbed is located in Northern Kenya. Many head to South Africa and are shipped there for either hopes for a better life, forced labor, or for sexual exploitation.

From this article from Kenya's Daily Nation, writer Abdullahi Jamaa reveals some of the methods that human traffickers use.

And here in the North, the scale of human trafficking is alarming. “Trafficking of people is very rampant here. It is a multi-million dollar business that is getting bold in much of the Great lakes and Horn of Africa region,” says Mr Abdullahi Hirsi, the executive director of Northern Heritage, a local aid agency in Garissa.

“In the past few years alone, because of droughts, we have seen a huge number of economic refugees targeted by human traffickers with a promise of better life elsewhere,” he said. A spot-check in Garissa, Wajir and Mandera shows that the illegal business is conducted daily, final arrangements done in Nairobi.

“In Garissa, at least five persons are trafficked in each of the more than 10 buses plying the route to Nairobi. You can imagine the number of people on sale everyday — more than 50,” says an anti-trafficking activist who sought anonymity due to security reasons. “This depicts a completely worrying picture.”

Nairobi’s’ Eastleigh has been the hub of the internationally denounced trade. Economic and conflict refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya are sold in the sprawling commercial centre to move to other countries. “Eastleigh is a connection point for most victims. It is where the journey starts and it is where most monies exchange hands,” says Amina Kinsi of Ngazi Moja Foundation, a lobby group in Eastleigh.

According to a recent report released by US State Department in June 2009, Kenya is a source, transit and a destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purpose of better lives, forced labour and sexual exploitation. Victims take tedious routes to South Africa and sometimes to some European countries. Traffickers make millions of dollars every month by arranging and directing the journey to South Africa. Some victims end their travels with shocking deaths.

The cheapest illegal migration goes well over $600 while the most expensive takes more than $2,000 for a journey that sometimes takes several months. “Sometimes, you become stranded in a town where you know no one. I spent more than a week in Zambia as I had run out of cash,” said Farah, who returned from South Africa at the height of Xenophobia against Somalis.

“I reached Johannesburg after more than three weeks of journeying. It was the worst journey ever for me.” The cartel of human traffickers usually collect per-head fee at every entry point of these countries. “Traffickers use unmanned border towns, often meeting with little police and security restrictions,” says Mr Hirsi of Northern Heritage.

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