AFRICA Union (AU) members have been challenged to address human trafficking networks, which are increasingly taking their roots in the continent, affecting myriads of sectors. The call was made by Zanzibar Minister in the Office of the Second Vice-President (Policy, Coordination, and House of Representatives), Dr. Khalid Salum Mohamed during a technical workshop of senior officials from 55 AU Member States.

The workshop is geared to validate the draft policies on the prevention of trafficking in persons (TIP) and prevention of smuggling of migrants (SOM) in Africa that was opened here with a call for concerted efforts to address the vices. Dr. Mohamed informed delegates that it is an indisputable fact that every country in the continent is negatively affected by the illegal trafficking networks.

"Many AU Members are either source, transit or destination countries. For the case of Tanzania, we have been taking different measures but despite the efforts, women, girls and children are still trafficked and rescued from exploitative situations in many countries, particularly in the Middle East," he said. Dr. Mohamed pointed out that challenges that make people vulnerable for being trafficked or smuggled are almost similar in many AU Member States.

"Increasing level of poverty and the protracted nature of many conflicts in some African states have not only been the main root of human mobility and migration but also contributed to the rise of people being trafficked or smuggled across the continent," he said. He said after the three-days meeting, participants consisting of regional economic communities, regional groupings of African states, women and children groups, academicians, law enforcers and immigration officers among others, will provide concrete measures to strengthen protection of victims, prosecution of perpetrators and enhance information and intelligence sharing.

Head of Labour, Employment and Migration, Department of Social Development, Sports, and Culture- AU Commission, Mr. Sabelo Mbokazi said Africa cannot be peaceful and grow when illicit activities like human trafficking is on the rise. "Our role as Members is to implement proposed policies when they are developed. We need partnership to be able to combat human trafficking," he said.

Chief of Mission in Tanzania, International Organization (IOM), Dr. Qassim Sufi said: "Responses to human trafficking and migrant smuggling require holistic government and society approach. As a member, partner, observer, and provider of technical expertise... IOM is positioned strategically to support Africa".