Under the UN Secretary-General’s initiative “Education First” and within the larger MDG campaign, UNO Baku – Department of Public Information, (UN DPI) joined forces with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support a five day winter camp to increase public awareness of human trafficking, stimulate information exchange and rally the Azerbaijani youth to fight it.
The workshop, led by IOM specialists and supported by the UN DPI staff, took place in Guba town that borders with the Russian Federation, one of the top destinations for human traffickers. Students representing various Baku-based universities, youth clubs and student associations gathered from 11-15 February, just in time to discuss data from the UN Report on trafficking launched on 13 February.
According to the UN Report on Trafficking in Persons, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation, women and girls account for about 75 percent of all trafficking victims detected globally and almost 20% of all trafficking victims worldwide are children.
“Taking into account that Azerbaijan is a source, transit, and destination country for all forms of human trafficking, it is crucial for us to equip young people, and girls in particular, with the right information and have them spread the word among their friends and relatives. Action should be taken to prevent this crime, and to talk about it openly, since the victims can be trapped into this modern day slavery before even realizing it,” said the UN DPI Representative in Azerbaijan, Envera Selimovic.
This training, implemented within the framework of the wider project entitled “Solidifying Awareness on Trafficking in Persons in Azerbaijan through Education,” which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, was first in a series of several upcoming gatherings that will be devoted to human trafficking. Since its establishment in Azerbaijan in 1996, IOM is committed to upholding human dignity and thus “it is crucial to raise awareness about this heinous crime - human trafficking, a type of crime that now affects an estimated 2.4 million people worldwide, mostly women and children,” says Saltanat Mammadova, Programme Coordinator at IOM.
Her colleague, a trainer of IOM, Fuad Dargahli added: “Here in Guba we continue with our awareness raising sessions and we are happy seeing how our participants are taking this issue seriously. We hope that they will be our relentless messengers when getting back to their schools and communities where they will hopefully gather a larger network to fight human trafficking jointly.”Joining the training on behalf of the UN DPI office, Vafa Safarli talked about the overall activities of the UN Family in Azerbaijan and youth activities in particular.
“Today’s youth are activists and promoters of change and as tomorrow’s leaders, we hope that they will take up their duties as advocates and awareness raisers seriously,” said Safarli while talking about the importance of the youth participation.
“It is an amazing opportunity that allows us students to gain firsthand knowledge and understanding of how traffickers lure people into modern day slavery”, says Maltam Huseynova, a second year student from Baku State University. She, along with other participants, promise to use their gained knowledge, share the information obtained and be part of the larger network that combats human trafficking in Azerbaijan.