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UK leads the charge in eradicating scourge of modern slavery

UK to protect up to 800,000 people in fragile and conflict-affected parts of Africa

  • UK to protect up to 800,000 people in fragile and conflict-affected parts of Africa by providing families with alternative livelihood opportunities and protecting children from exploitation.
  • Support for Prime Minister’s Call to Action from international community underlined by endorsement from 77 states, increasing from 37 this time last year.
  • UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia commit to eradicating modern slavery from global supply chains.

The UK will continue to lead the fight against modern slavery at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), galvanising international action to stamp out this vicious scourge and launching a range of projects to tackle child slavery across Africa and Asia.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt will today [Monday 24 September] announce new protections for vulnerable children at risk of falling prey to traffickers. A UK backed project with UNICEF will provide up to 400,000 girls and boys in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan at risk of slavery with birth registration documents and other measures to shelter them from forced labour and underage marriage.

The UK will commit extra support, taking the UK spend to over £200 million, to help create jobs, strengthen law enforcement and improve recruitment practices so people do not become victims. It will also provide vital protections for those who do. UK aid is working to wipe out slavery, which costs the UK’s economy an estimated £4.3 billion a year, and prevent onward trafficking to the UK’s shores.

Speaking ahead of the meeting in New York, Ms Mordaunt said:

“From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, the insidious virus of modern slavery is infiltrating all aspects of our daily life without us even realising. Not only does it have a huge cost to the global and the UK’s economy, it is a shameful stain on our global conscience that must be eradicated for good.

“No one nation can banish this borderless crime alone. The international community must collaborate to dismantle predatory trafficking networks, support victims, strengthen justice systems and create sustainable alternative livelihoods.”

The UK alongside the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia will build on the success of the Prime Minister’s Global Call to Action, with four new principles for governments across the globe, designed to tackle modern slavery in global supply chains. As a collective the UK along with the other countries recognise the leveraging potential of their combined purchasing power – totalling more than $600bn – to significantly prevent forced labour in public and private sector supply chains, a crime which entraps an estimated 25 million people worldwide.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins, added:

“Denying people their freedom and basic human rights through modern slavery is a global tragedy. We as governments, businesses and citizens must do all we can to stop it.

“The UK and our partners are going further, showing leadership and setting out these new principles designed to drive out slavery from the supply chains which we will all benefit from.”

The UK’s leading stance sends a strong message that those doing business with the UK are required to act responsibly. With more than 60 per cent of forced labour victims in the private economy, Ms Mordaunt will also insist businesses step up efforts to eradicate the scourge of slavery from their supply chains. By galvanising their support, the UK hopes to enhance transparency and drive out modern slavery from the global economy.

In the year since the Prime Minister Theresa May launched the global Call to Action, 77 states have now endorsed it. This has increased from the 37 who joined last year. Today Ms Mordaunt will rally remaining members to do the right thing and join the global fight to eradicate these crimes which entrap over 40 million victims worldwide.

As children make up a quarter of modern slavery victims our additional support will:

  • Equip up to 400,000 vulnerable people in conflict ravaged parts of Africa with skills training and alternative livelihood opportunities. Our support will improve law enforcement and assist conflict-affected families in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Tackle the worst forms of child labour through a major new programme across six countries in Asia. Working in partnership with UNICEF, the International Labour Organisation and the Institute of Development Studies, UK support will reduce the vulnerability of children to forced labour in hazardous industries such as agriculture and clamp down on the trafficking of children into commercial sex work. Interventions that tackle the drivers of child labour will be rolled out including cash transfer support for families affected.
  • Educate children against the perils of trafficking, assist social workers and help reintegrate victims back into society along dangerous trafficking and migratory routes in east Africa. As well as support to Africa and Asia to tackle trafficking at source, we are continuing to shine a spotlight on this crime domestically:
  • We are doing more than ever to catch and convict offenders. The UK is transforming the law enforcement and criminal justice response to these crimes, resulting in almost 900 active police investigations in 2018 compared to 188 in 2016.
  • The UK is significantly increasing support for identified victims, particularly children and is rolling out Independent Child Trafficking Advocates across the UK to help them to rebuild their lives.
  • Thanks to our world leading legislation, thousands of businesses have published modern slavery statements and companies have changed practices that were driving demand for modern slavery.
  • In July, the UK Government announced an independent review of its landmark Modern Slavery Act to ensure our world-first legislation keeps in step with this evolving crime.

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