For Immediate Release

Office of Press Relations

Today, we mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons amid a string of developments in trafficking cases across the world in the last month. On June 14, the Portuguese police rescued 47 soccer players – including 36 minors – who were recruited from three continents and then held against their will by people running a fake training school. The following day, in South Carolina, two individuals were sentenced in federal court for labor trafficking and fraud, after bringing 55 Mexican nationals to work on their company’s farms, confiscating their documents, and forcing them to work 90-hour weeks without the wages, meals, and medical care they were owed. Just weeks later, the Filipino National Police freed more than 2,000 people from an alleged trafficking hub in Las Piñas City, in which victims from across Asia were lured to the Philippines via online job postings for work in a casino, then barred from leaving the complex. 

These stories show the global nature of human trafficking – a phenomenon from which, unfortunately, no community is truly safe. Traffickers exploit people of all backgrounds, compelling human beings through force, fraud, or coercion to work for little to no pay or perform commercial sex acts. And traffickers are getting frighteningly good at what they do, aided by sophisticated technology and growing rates of conflict. Data from 2022 showed more than 27 million victims of trafficking, approximately 3.3 million of whom are children – a number that has roughly tripled in the last 15 years. Because trafficking is still understudied and underreported, the true numbers are, in all likelihood, significantly higher.

Since 2001, USAID has invested more than $370 million across 88 countries to protect survivors and work directly with communities to mitigate the factors that increase the risk of trafficking. In Ukraine, ongoing conflict has increased the risk that individuals – especially women and children – will be trafficked or otherwise exploited. In partnership with the International Organization for Migration, USAID is supporting a national toll-free counter-trafficking and migrant advice hotline, which responds to roughly 22,000 calls every year. Together, we are also supporting efforts to provide direct case-management services – including medical assistance for survivors of gender-based violence – that reached more than 400 individuals in the first six months of this year.

And in Bangladesh, USAID worked with nonprofit and local partners to establish a survivors’ network that provides skills training and resources for survivors, while also raising awareness in communities as to the risks and signs of human trafficking. That network has since become the nationally recognized survivor advocacy group ANIRBAN, Bengali for “the flame that will not fade.” Today, ANIRBAN is a crucial resource for trafficking survivors and at-risk communities across the country – and, indeed, is a valuable local partner to USAID.

USAID will continue to integrate trafficking prevention into our efforts to support vulnerable communities. Our work to end the poverty, hunger, and desperation that trafficking preys on is critical to putting traffickers out of business.