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UK Aid Will Tackle Child Labour and Trafficking in the Commonwealth

By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Child labourers in countries from Bangladesh to India, and police and prosecutors fighting human trafficking in nations such as Sri Lanka and Zambia, will receive support through a £5.5 million aid package, Britain said on Wednesday.

More than half of the money will help several Commonwealth nations tackle child labour in industries including agriculture, construction and the garment sector, said Britain’s Home Office and the Department for International Development (DfID).

Take action: No Human Should Be Bought or Sold. Ask the UK to Give More Support to Victims of Modern Slavery

The rest of the aid will be split between strengthening law enforcement and justice systems to fight human trafficking, and supporting tough new legislation in countries including Ghana, Nigeria, and Pakistan, according to a joint government statement.

“This is a global problem which requires a global response, which is why all countries must unite to end this to make these brutal crimes a thing of the past,” home secretary Amber Rudd said at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

“The Commonwealth has committed to taking a leading role in the international fight against human trafficking,” she said in a statement during the week-long biennial summit held in London.

Read more:More People Than Ever Before Are at Risk From Slavery in the UK

Commonwealth nations should use the event to commit to work together towards meeting a UN global goal of ending by 2030 a trade estimated to enslave about 40 million people globally and raise annual profits of $150 billion, activists said this week.

The £3 million pledged to tackle child labour will focus on conflict-hit areas and communities such as the Rohingya in Bangladesh where there is a high risk of modern slavery seeping into global supply chains, the government said.

“Trafficking and forced labour often trap the most marginalised, (and) few are as vulnerable as the Rohingya people who have fled unimaginable horrors,” Britain’s aid minister Penny Mordaunt told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

Read more: This Is What It's Like to Be Sex Trafficked in India at 14

“Our support will allow potential victims to be identified and provide the intelligence needed to...stop child labour,” she said.

The latest funding follows a pledge in September by Britain to double its spending on global projects tackling slavery and trafficking to £150 million.

Britain is considered a leader in global efforts to combat slavery, and passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 to crack down on traffickers, force businesses to check their supply chains for forced labour, and protect people at risk of being enslaved.

Yet the British government has been criticised by several anti-slavery organisations over a lack of support for victims and for working with suppliers who flout the landmark law.

Global Citizen is campaigning with the Co-op to call on the British government to give greater support to victims of human trafficking within the UK. You can join us by taking action on this issue here