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UK leads the charge in eradicating modern slavery

The Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt announced new protections for vulnerable children at risk of falling prey to traffickers.

A new programme supporting Pakistan tackle child labour, has been launched by the UK government. The AAWAZ II programme, which has been launched by the UK’s Department for International Development, will enable communities and support stronger government institutions in Pakistan so that they can better protect vulnerable groups.

Only 34% of children under the age of five years have birth certificates in Pakistan. Without this critical document, children go unprotected, they are invisible to many services and people are locked out of opportunities.

In partnership with UNICEF, DFID is funding a pioneering digital birth registration programme in Pakistan to tackle the challenge. DFID is also funding a pioneering child labour survey which will be used to identify the children most at risk and support the government to strengthen protection.

The Aawaz programme is part of the UK’s work to lead the global fight against modern slavery, including at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) being held this week. The aim is to galvanise international action to eradicate modern slavery, and launching a range of projects to tackle child slavery across Africa and Asia.

The Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt announced new protections for vulnerable children at risk of falling prey to traffickers. The 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. Similarly, the UK will launch a £26 million package to tackle the worst forms of child labour through a major new programme across six Asian countries, including the AAWAZ II programme in Pakistan.

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.”

AAWAZ II will work with government and local communities and has a particular focus on the issue of modern slavery, to which marginalised groups are extremely vulnerable. The programme aims to reach poor communities and vulnerable people across the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab. It will build on the success of its predecessor, AAWAZ I: Voice and Accountability Programme.

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