Fighting Human Trafficking: U.S. Grants $2.5 Mln to UN Agencies in Morocco

U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Puneet Talwar announced, on Friday in Rabat, a grant of 2.5 million dollars for the benefit of United Nations agencies in Morocco to contribute to efforts to combat human trafficking. This grant is provided to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Funded in several stages by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, it aims to strengthen the detection, identification, protection, return, and reintegration of victims of human trafficking. Thanks to this grant, UN agencies are supporting the Moroccan government in opening the first reception centers for victims of human trafficking, thus ensuring these individuals access to comprehensive and specialized services. This is considered to be an important step in implementing the National Plan to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking 2023-2030 and the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Human Trafficking. Speaking at a ceremony held for this occasion, the U.S. Ambassador praised Morocco’s efforts to proactively identify victims and prevent this crime, as well as to hold human traffickers criminally accountable. He expressed appreciation for the approval by the Moroccan government and the widespread distribution of a practical guide on victim identification, noting that this is an “important step” in the fight against human trafficking. Talwar also praised Morocco’s adoption of the National Plan to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking and the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Human Trafficking, emphasizing that “the establishment of a hotline for victims is also an important step towards raising awareness” on this issue. Morocco and the United States have ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, he reminded. For her part, the UN Resident Coordinator in Rabat, Nathalie Fustier, welcomed the Kingdom’s determination to intensify the fight against human trafficking, reaffirming the United Nations’ commitment to further support Morocco in this regard. Morocco established a seven-year plan and a national referral mechanism last year, she recalled, highlighting the “true progress” made by the Kingdom in this area. Meanwhile, the President of the National Coordination Commission for Measures to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking (CNCLT), Hicham El Mellati, expressed the Kingdom’s firm determination to strengthen, in collaboration with other partners, the fight against this scourge. El Mellati also emphasized the need to further promote coordination with relevant government departments and civil society, recalling the initiatives launched by various stakeholders to “give a voice to victims” through strengthening judicial procedures to provide them with necessary support. Furthermore, he mentioned that the Commission is currently working on developing several action programs, including the opening and equipping, initially, of reception centers for victims of human trafficking in the cities of Fez and Tangier, with the perspective of their expansion to other regions of the Kingdom.