By Jeffrey Moyo
BEITBRIDGE (ACP-IDN) – At the age of 39, Ndikonyaga Muleya hailing from Beitbridge, Zimbabwe’s border town with South Africa, has found illegal crossing into South Africa convenient.
Over the years he became experienced crossing into the neighboring country looking for casual jobs in Musina, also a South African border town with Zimbabwe, which he now frequents as an illegal transporter of undocumented Zimbabweans itching to cross into South Africa fleeing from this country’s mounting economic woes.
“I earn money from transporting people through unmanned crossing points into South Africa. I was also helped before when I started crossing to SA,” Muleya told IDN.
Although he neither denied nor confirmed if he was also a human trafficker, Muleya apparently is also one of thousands of migrant smugglers in Africa who have over the years cashed in on the profession.
The crime done on many Africans who have over the years seen themselves being assisted to travel to far away other countries, has jolted into action organisations such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States which has stepped in to address Trafficking in human beings (THB) and smuggling of migrants (SoM) on the African continent.
Last year in March, the ACP-EU Migration Programme met to counter human trafficking, migrant smuggling in Georgetown, Guyana focusing on trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants.
The meeting brought together 70 delegates and experts from ACP States and from the European Union (EU) to look at the most effective means to counter human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
Speaking ahead of the meeting then, Rosilyne Borland, an official from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said: “This is an excellent opportunity to learn from the experiences of experts from these three regions in preventing and responding to both trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, including protection of victims and migrants who have suffered human rights abuses.”
Despite such efforts to contend with human trafficking by organisations such as ACP, many human traffickers on the continent like Muleya insist they would not be deterred.
So even as ACP among other anti-trafficking organisations are contending with human trafficking, Southern Africa in particular has become the hardest hit, becoming the hot spot of trafficking of humans and even smuggling of migrants, thanks to the region’s porous borders and at times corrupt security officials exposed to bribes to facilitate human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
Even traffickers such as Muleya brag how they easily pay their way through illegal border crossing points as they move their clients to neighboring countries.
“It’s easy; we bribe security and border officials manning illegal crossing points and off with our clients we always smoothly cross the border straight into South Africa. Money talks my brother,” said Muleya.
But to this, ACP has come in handy to contend with smuggling of migrants, entering into a pact with EU as it sought to accentuate the positive eﬀects of migration across Africa in order to promote legal mobility. Meanwhile, then, EU focused on the need to stem irregular migration, facilitate returns, and strengthen border controls.
The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, which also targeted at fighting human trafficking, was signed in Cotonou, Benin, closer to two decades ago.
But still years after the agreement was brokered, the human trafficking dilemma still causes headaches for many organisations like ACP contending with the scourge, with ACP however rising to the occasion to face the challenge head-on.
Eight years ago, the ACP Group of States and the European Union agreed on a Joint Declaration on Migration and Development that was endorsed by the ACP-EU Council back then and the parties committed to strengthening and deepening cooperation in the Governance of migration and coordination of dialogue built on strategies to address irregular migration, enable regular migration, including issues related to counter-trafficking in persons and counter-smuggling of migrants.
The ACP-EU initiative drew UN agencies working in the fields of counter-trafficking and counter-smuggling of migrants.
This year in March, Koen Vervaeke, managing director for Africa at the European External Action Service (EEAS) at the Chatham House think-tank in London, said: “The EU’s new partnership with Africa must do more with migration policy. We must partner with Africa to fight trafficking and migrant smuggling.”
As such, the International Organisation on Migration’s ACP-EU Migration Action, was launched four years ago in order to provide tailored technical support on migration to countries in all ACP regions and for this it the ACP has received 58 technical assistance requests from 44 ACP governments and five regional organizations
Thanks particularly to ACP, in June this year, at the request of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), IOM and ACP-EU Migration Action hosted a five-day training on countering trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.
The theme of the training was Capacity Building, Counter-Trafficking, Human Smuggling, with DRC experiencing numerous cases of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and considered a country of origin, transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination for trafficked and smuggler migrants.
As a follow-up, ACP-EU Migration Action and IOM would continue supporting the government of DRC in order to help them find tools and appropriate solutions to face and deal with the scourge of human trafficking as well as people smuggling.
Still contending with human trafficking, an ACP-EU Technical Seminar on Trafficking in Human Beings, with special focus on Women and Children in June 2018 ended at the ACP Secretariat, where delegates gathered to share views and make recommendations on the way forward in combatting the scourge.
Through this meeting, the ACP working with its partners, focused on main challenges and policies to tackle trafficking in human beings in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
The ACP Group of States and the EU held several cycles of dialogues at Ambassador levels, which resulted in sets of recommendations that were subsequently endorsed by the joint ACP-EU Council.
To implement these recommendations, on January 2015 the ACP-EU Migration Action was launched. The Action undertakes activities that support the recommendations of the Migration and Development Dialogue on the topics of visa, remittances, readmission, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
In 2010, the ACP Group of States and the European Union agreed on a Joint Declaration on Migration and Development that was endorsed by the ACP-EU Council in June 2010.
In the declaration the parties committed to strengthen and deepen cooperation in the Governance of migration and coordination of dialogue built on strategies to address irregular migration, enable regular migration, and migration and development, including issues related to counter-trafficking in persons and counter-smuggling of migrants. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 November 2018]
Photo: The picture shows two women from Lesotho trafficked in South Africa. Credit: Sunday Times.
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