Climate conditions and humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa have helped fuel human and child trafficking in the region. Fleeing famine and armed conflict, people are being trafficked across the border from Somalia into Kenya.
Several girls have made this 1,000-kilometre journey to Kenya’s Eastleigh estate. The Eastleigh estate, En route, the girls were made to feel safe – that is, until they reached their destination. At this point, the girls were sold to “employers.”
Some trafficking victims may be shipped to subsequent destinations or traded into Nairobi brothels says Womankind Kenya’s Director, Hubbie Hussein. Womankind Kenya is a non-governmental organization operating out of Garissa, in the North Eastern Province. Estimates by the group put the number of trafficked girls from Garissa and Somalia into Nairobi at 50 weekly.
According to the US State Department’s latest Trafficking in Persons Report, Kenya is a source, transit and destination country for both child and human trafficking.
“Traffickers, who gain poor families’ trust through familial, tribal, or religious ties, fraudulently recruit children through offers to raise and educate them and women through offers to place them in lucrative employment,” warns the report.
For instance, children from Tanzania are lured from their parents and homes with promises of schooling. But, when they arrive in Kenya, they find themselves handed over to families seeking domestic labourers. Border regions such as Kuria, Migori and Transmara have also become destination sites for victims of commercial sex trafficking.
According Caroline Okere, Chair of Gender Violence and Girl Child Network in Migori County, "It is difficult to identify traffickers, as some pose as owners of orphanages and homes for the destitute. Some pass through the border claiming the children belong to their relatives,” she told local media.
In Kenya’s Coast Province, 10,000 people are trafficked into the country annually. In the Rift Valley Province, 200 illegal migrants enter Kenya from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda every week to work as cattle herders, domestic labourers and commercial sex workers. From Nairobi, girls may be sent to the coastal, tourism-heavy city of Mombasa for the purposes of sex tourism.
Last month, the International Peace Institute and the Africa Centre for Open Governance released a report stating that most people trafficked into East Africa were women and children who would become prostitutes or forced labourers.