Gov’t working closely with US to provide shelters for survivors of human trafficking

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Gov’t working closely with US to provide shelters for survivors of human trafficking

The government of Trinidad and Tobago, through the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) is working closely with the United States to provide multiple shelters for survivors of human trafficking.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by the US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Candace Bond, at the launch of the four-day Heal, Empower, Rise Counter Trafficking in Persons (HER-CTIP) Project Shelter Management Training, for Management and Staff of TIP (Trafficking In Persons) facilities.

In her remarks, the US Ambassador observed that human trafficking is one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing crimes in the world that often goes unreported.  She said the US Government, through the USAID, has provided more than US$370 million globally towards the fight against human trafficking.

Ambassador Bond said the establishment of the shelters is a collaborative effort between the IOM, USAID and the T&T Government.

The aim, she stated, is to improve the quality of treatment and care for trafficking survivors.

“Through this project we’re supporting the establishment of six residential facilities in Trinidad and Tobago, to provide accommodation for TIP survivors,” Ambassador Bond reported.  

“A victim-centred approach is at the heart of charting a path to healing trauma,” she said.  “We can’t do this work effectively without having the voices, the views, the experiences, and the ideas of survivors, front and centre, in everything that we’re doing.”

T&T’s Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Senator Donna Cox, also announced the establishment of another shelter, specifically for the protection of women.

“The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services is establishing a transitional facility to accommodate women who are victims of trafficking,” Minister Cox confirmed, noting that the goal is to beyond providing only refuge.

“Our goal is to ensure not only the physical safety of our survivors,” she pointed out, “but also to ensure their adequate nutrition and access to proper health services, to address their physical health and other issues resulting from the trafficking experience.  The shelters will offer the traumatised survivors informed care, as well as facilitate the rest and recovery so important for survivors to heal from their trauma.”

Minister Cox revealed that the transitional facility to be established by the Ministry is part of a suite of intervention strategies in support of a National Emergency/Transitional and Social Housing Programme.

She said: “Under this Programme, several transitional homes will be operationalized in 2024, for vulnerable men, women and families.” 

The training programme for TIP shelter management and staff is being hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with USAID, and takes place this week, from January 24-26, 2024.