Namayingo leaders pledge support to The Salvation Army in fight against human trafficking

A group photo of The Salvation Army Uganda team with stakeholders in Namayingo district after the inception meeting on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 (Photo/Isabirye Simon Peter)

Namayingo, (UG):- District Leaders from the Eastern border district of Namayingo have pledged their commitment to supporting The Salvation Army in its ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking in Uganda.

The rallying call was made on Tuesday, April 30, at an inception meeting held where key stakeholders discussed strategies for addressing this critical issue. The Salvation Army, a Christian-based charitable organization, is now in its second phase of the Anti-Human Trafficking Project, which targets multiple districts, including Namayingo, Namisindwa, Busia, Mbale, and Tororo. The organization has trained volunteers and engaged various stakeholders to ensure the success of this project.

The LCV chairperson of Namayingo District, Mr. Ronald Sanya, highlighted the serious threat posed by human trafficking. He shared a recent incident of one of his staff members, who narrowly escaped abduction by unknown perpetrators after being lured with the promise of a high-paying job.

“This vice is real and very challenging to stop due to the many porous borders in the district,” Mr. Sanya noted. “But we are committed to joining hands with The Salvation Army to end human trafficking here and in the surrounding regions.”

Mr Sanya identified ignorance and poverty as the primary factors contributing to human trafficking in the district. Given the district’s 13 islands with 52 gazetted landing sites, as well as its proximity to 04 counties to neighbouring Kenya, the LC5 boss urged The Salvation Army to widen its focus to include trailer and taxi drivers and water marines, suggesting that their associations could play a crucial role in the fight against human trafficking.

A section of Namayingo district stakeholders in the meeting with the Salvation Army on Tuesday

Captain Stephen Muia, The Development Secretary for The Salvation Army Uganda, commended all local leaders for their support, noting that collaboration with key stakeholders is vital to the project’s success.

“We intend to have a memorandum of understanding with the district to ensure we comply with national laws and government policies,” Capt. Muia said. “This complements the work that the government is doing, and we aim to support their agenda in the district.”

The Anti-Human Trafficking Project Manager, Mr. Wataka Emmanuel, explained that the inception meetings are designed to align the project with government principles and legal frameworks. He emphasized that similar meetings have taken place in Namisindwa and Busia, where local leaders pledged their support as well.

Mr. Wataka Emmanuel, the Anti-Human Trafficking Project Manager (on the left) and Salvation Army’s Dev’t Secretary Cap. Stephen Muia during the meeting

Mutumba Sub County, one of the areas most prone to human trafficking, welcomed The Salvation Army’s initiative. The LC3 Chairperson Mr Mugoya Katibu expressed concern about the level of poverty and ignorance driving people to seek work abroad without fully understanding the risks.

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The District Female Councillor for Mutumba Sub County and Mutumba Town Council, Ms. Nabwire Betty, said, “We are pleased to have The Salvation Army fighting human trafficking in our district. This will help prevent exploitation, especially among women who are often taken to Kenya for work but end up being exploited.”

She urged The Salvation Army to engage the entire local leadership to ensure successful project implementation. She also called on parents to be vigilant and not to give their children to strangers offering lucrative job opportunities.

The meeting included representatives from the Uganda Police Force, the Namayingo Resident District Commissioner (RDC), the District Chairperson, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), the District Education Officer (DEO) and various other local leaders from vulnerable sub-counties.

It also involved partners from the ‘Footprint to Freedom,’ a survivor-led organization that helps victims rebuild their lives by providing skills training in areas like tailoring, hairdressing, ICT, and various crafts.

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The survivor leader at the organization Ms. Kusiima Miriam said they support survivors of human trafficking with economic empowerment by equipping them with knowledge and skills to sustain themselves other than falling victim to human trafficking again.

She also said Footprint to Freedom aims to expand its support to ensure survivors have a solid foundation to avoid falling back into the cycle of trafficking.

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