10th anniversary of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund: a victim-centered approach against human trafficking

Abuja, 3 November 2020 – Marya is a former victim of human trafficking who was admitted at NGO Freedom Foundation’s Genesis House, a female rehabilitation shelter that provides rehabilitation, education and empowerment to young women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked. “Genesis House helped me out. I learned how to read, to write. When I go outside, seeing people, I don’t feel lonely anymore. I feel great, I will be able to relate with others in the society,” says Marya, relieved.

Between 2017 and 2020, Freedom Foundation was a recipient of the UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking (UNVTF) small grants programme. Established ten years ago by the UN General Assembly, the Trust Fund aims at providing humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking in persons. Managed by UNODC, it supports civil society actions around the world to ensure victims are identified and receive the necessary assistance, protection and support for their recovery and reintegration. Support range from legal advice and access to justice to compensation and other aid packages. Since 2010, the UNVTF granted 4.5 million USD to 89 NGOs based in nearly 50 countries to provide direct assistance to over 3,500 victims every year.

Following the Freedom Foundation project selected for the 2017-2020 third grant cycle, a second Nigeria-based organization, Women, Infants And Children Care Initiative (WICCI), was selected in April 2020 under the Funds’ fourth grant cycle. This project is focused on the provision of social protection, medical and material assistance to the vulnerable victims of trafficking in Edo State.

“Thanks to the support from the Trust Fund, WICCI has provided social protection, material assistance and psychosocial support services to 47 vulnerable victims of trafficking in Edo State”, said Ms. Doyinsola A. Adebayo, Executive Director of WICCI. “The rehabilitation of trafficked victims should be our greatest concern and provision of continual support to them is key to combat the menace.”

A Board of Trustees nominated for three years by the Secretary-General in consultation with Member States and UNODC Executive-Director provides strategic guidance to the fund and is in charge of considering submitted projects. On 20 October 2020, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, has been appointed as one the five members of the board for the 2020 – 2022 period. She is the second Nigerian to serve in this capacity following Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, former UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The new board held its first meeting on Friday 30 October 2020.

NAPTIP Director-General, Dame Julie Okah-Donli, said: “On the 10th Anniversary of United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking, I congratulate the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and UNODC Executive Director Ms. Ghada Whaly on the laudable vision that birthed the Fund, and the remarkable achievements of the Fund in the last 10 years.

It is noteworthy that many victims of human trafficking in Nigeria have benefited from the Fund through the NGOs that were able to access funding. As I join the Board of Trustees for the next three years, I envisage an exciting future for the Fund as we seek to broaden and deepen its support and assistance to victims of trafficking all over the world in view of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on this vulnerable segment of our society. Once again, congratulations to everyone who has been part of the success story of the Fund.”

For more information, visit UNODC dedicated webpage on the UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking

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A journalist by profession and I have been in active practice for so many years. A graduate of Political Science from University of Abuja. Maried with four children.

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