Globally around 40 million people are trafficked every year1. Iraq, including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) has a long history of insecurity and conflict and remains at risk of being used as a transit, destination, and source location for human trafficking. Since 2015, SEED Foundation has supported victims of human trafficking (VOTs) working alongside the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in particular the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA).
Following the acceptance of the KRG’s Anti-trafficking Law No. 6 in 2018, SEED Foundation and MoI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2019 to foster efforts to combat human trafficking through enhanced protection of VOTs, and those at risk, which led to the creation and operation of Iraq’s first public-private shelter that demonstrates a survivor-centered, rights-based, trauma informed model for VOTs. Working closely with MoI Anti-trafficking police units, SEED Foundation protected the VOTs by providing them with shelter, medical care, psychological support, and secured a safe return to their home countries. Since then, SEED Foundation has supported 223 survivors of trafficking, with 98 receiving protective shelter.
On December 2nd 2021, SEED Foundation and MoI renewed the partnership and signed a new MoU. During the MoU signing ceremony, SEED’s President and Executive Director Sherri Kraham Talabany thanked H.E Rebar Ahmed Khalid, Minister of Interior for his leadership in anti-trafficking efforts, and announced that the future efforts will include working with the judiciary council to build the capacity of judges and judicial investigators. In return, the Minister thanked SEED Foundation for its continuous efforts to combat human trafficking in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and underlined the KRG’s firm commitment to protecting survivors and holding traffickers accountable. The U.S. Consul General also participated in the event and commended the KRG for their commitment to combatting human trafficking and applauded SEED for the exemplary work. During his remarks, he stated “We are proud to support SEED and look forward to continuing our work with them.’’ The Minister underscored the KRG’s readiness to support SEED’s efforts and noted his intentions to further strengthen the anti-trafficking response, and the protection of VOTs, together with SEED.
This MoU, in addition to preventing trafficking, and protecting and supporting the recovery of VOTs through collaboration and mutual referrals for services and shelter, also aims to expand activities focused on providing technical support to MOI and the judiciary with specific tools and procedures, including legislative efforts and training for the KRG Anti-trafficking institutions and other agencies, dedicated to combatting human trafficking. SEED Foundation is the only local NGO with specialized anti-human trafficking response in the IKR. SEED’s anti-trafficking work is funded by the Governments of the United States and the Netherlands.
1 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State