LONDON, April 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — From sexually exploited girls in Ethiopia to migrant workers in Malaysia and Mauritius, Britain on Friday pledged £4 million ($5.2 million) to support global anti-slavery projects.
Six organisations, such as charity Anti-Slavery International and the United Nations University, a research institution, will share the aid money from The Modern Slavery Innovation Fund.
The funding will also be used to run workshops on modern slavery in South Africa, improve support for survivors in India, and develop an online data hub to boost anti-slavery policies, according to Britain's Home Office (interior ministry).
"Human trafficking, forced labour, and exploitation are sadly not evils of the past, but are with us today," Victoria Atkins, Britain's minister for crime, said in a statement.
"The projects being funded today will help protect some of the most vulnerable people on the planet and encourage more innovative approaches to identifying victims and pursuing those who would exploit them."
The Modern Slavery Innovation Fund was announced in 2016 and previously gave £6 million to schemes such as awareness-raising campaigns in Nigeria, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) — a coalition of trade unions, firms, and charities promoting workers' rights and one of the recipients of the latest funding — said it would help inform migrant workers in Malaysia about their rights and remediation.
"ETI will also work with global businesses in their supply chains worldwide so that they are able to improve working conditions for migrant workers and provide remedy for workers where they have suffered abuse," said ETI's Owain Johnstone.
The British government has committed a total of £200 million in aid funding to combat modern-day slavery overseas, and given several million pounds to nations from Albania to Vietnam.
Britain has hailed itself a leader in global efforts to end 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.
About 40 million people worldwide are living as slaves — trapped in forced labour or forced marriages — according to a landmark estimate by Australian rights group the Walk Free Foundation and the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO).
($1 = 0.7770 pounds)
(Writing by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Jason Fields. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)