Afghanistan has launched its first national referral network of NGOs and media to combat trafficking in persons. The Afghanistan Network for Combating Trafficking in Persons (ANTCIP) is part of a multi-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded activity, implemented by the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) to strengthen the country’s capacity to more effectively respond to trafficking in persons.

“Trafficking in persons is a serious concern in Afghanistan. Strengthening the capacity of national NGOs to help the Afghan government in effective implementation of the new Law to combat trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants is the key purpose of this network’ ’said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart.

ANTCIP will also build public awareness about the new Trafficking in Persons Law of 2017, and advocate for the Government of Afghanistan to enforce the law.

“Human trafficking continues to affect the lives of millions of people,” said USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith. “It is important to focus on the rights and needs of victims in the fight against trafficking in persons.”

During a regional NGO forum in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in June 2017, Afghan NGOs working to prevent trafficking in persons and assist victims agreed to coordinate and consolidate efforts in the fight against trafficking. The forum initiated the process of setting up a national network. The network will share information and collaborate with countries bordering Afghanistan to eliminate trafficking across international borders.

“Our role is to advocate to [the] Afghan government the importance and urgent need to implement the new law to prevent trafficking, to protect the victims and to prosecute the traffickers’ said Mohammad Shoaib Nasiri, National Coordinator of ANCTIP.

At the launching event, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said, “The Afghan government is committed to counter human trafficking; there is still much to be done. It is crucial now more than ever to cooperate, coordinate, and share responsibility in the fight against human trafficking.” He emphasized the need for all stakeholders responding to human trafficking in Afghanistan to work together to build and sustain the referral network.