World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Today, with an estimated 27.6 million victims around the world at any given time, no country is free from human trafficking

Erbil, Iraq – July 30, 2023: On the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, SEED Foundation, together with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (DCOC), reiterate their commitment to the prevention of human trafficking, and the protection of survivors and those at-risk across Kurdistan. 

Kurdistan and Iraq, are a source, transit, and destination for human trafficking, with the most prevalent types manifesting as forced labor and domestic servitude, and prominently by way of trafficking of foreign workers. There are also cases of commercial sexual exploitation, organ trafficking, and child labor – in the form of forced begging and recruitment to armed forces and groups. Human trafficking, in all its forms, is a grave violation of an individual’s human rights, and is illegal in Kurdistan and Iraq  under the Anti-Trafficking Law No. 6 (2018).

Since 2015, SEED Foundation has been providing comprehensive support services to survivors of trafficking in the Kurdistan Region, including legal services, mental health and psychosocial support, case management, cash assistance, as well as emergency shelter. In 2019, the same year that the KRG established the Anti-Trafficking Police, SEED and the Ministry of Interior signed the first of two 2-year Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate more effective referral mechanisms through the DCOC (formerly Directorate of Combating Human Trafficking), and training for frontline responders to improve institutional response. In the same year, SEED opened Kurdistan’s first and only licensed shelter for survivors of trafficking. 

“Since the establishment of KRG’s dedicated anti-trafficking directorate, we have worked together with SEED to save hundreds of lives. Through this critical partnership, we are able to increase the number of cases identified, more effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators, and raise awareness among society of the negative impact of human trafficking on our communities”, said Colonel Dara Faruk Othman, Director of the DCOC.

On July 30, 2023, SEED and the DCOC hosted events in Erbil, Sulaimani, and Duhok to engage Kurdistan’s society in the conversation about human trafficking. Each event was designed to increase knowledge of what constitutes human trafficking, encourage greater empathy with victims and survivors, and provide individuals with information on how to report or reach out for help. 

“Human trafficking might not be a new phenomena, but its definition and recognition in society is still very limited,” explained SEED’s Co-Founder and Vice-President, Tanya Gilly Khailany. “Without a deeper understanding, cases will go unrecognized and unreported. It is our job to provide support services, but also to empower our communities to help us combat human trafficking through the ability to identify, report, and support as needed.”

Thanks to the support of our donors, the United States Government, through the Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, and the Government of France’s Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, we continue to deliver life-saving services to survivors and those at-risk of trafficking, train and build the capacity of frontline responders, and advocate for improved protections and the prevention of trafficking in Kurdistan.


SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training, capacity building, and education for those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices, and protections for vulnerable people, and to promote social change.

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