The United Nations has sounded the alarm over rampant human trafficking in Malawi, which has forced underage persons into forced labour and exposed them to sexual exploitation.
A report by the agency o Wednesday said traffickers lure vulnerable people from other parts of the world with the promise of better lives, only to throw them into the pits of slavery.
The UN says it is supporting the Malawian governments in its efforts to end the practice and protect vulnerable people.
“The Government of Malawi accepts that more needs to be done to tackle this crime and there are gaps in the current approach,” said Maxwell Matewere, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) National Project Officer on Trafficking in Persons. “It also appreciates the expertise that we can offer.”
The UN highlighted case scenario where foreigners were lured into the Southern African country only to end up in miserable situations. For instance, six men from Nepal believed they were heading to the United States for work. Instead, after a long journey which took them through six countries, they arrived in Malawi, where they were locked in a house and their passports were taken away. A husband and wife were offered lucrative jobs on a tobacco estate in neighbouring Zambia. Once there, they were treated badly, deprived of food and not paid at the end of their contract.
The UN report says that Malawi also acts as a transit country for victims of trafficking who are taken to other African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, and to parts of Europe.
UNODC through its Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons and with the support of the United Kingdom, has over two years assisted Malawi in its efforts to combat human trafficking.
National strategies have been strengthened, legal frameworks brought in line with international standards and the country’s system to assist and protect victims has been improved.