Today U.S. Chargé d’Affaires William Gill opened a conference in Gusar marking World Day against Trafficking in Persons, calling on everyone to do their part: “Each of us has a vital role to play, a voice to add, to the fight against human trafficking. Together, it’s a fight we can win.”
The U.S. government, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), funded the conference which was organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to bring together diplomats, government officials and experts in the field to tackle this critical cross-border problem.
Chargé d’Affaires William Gill began his remarks by reminding conference attendees of the magnitude of the problem around the world. “The International Labor Organization has estimated that modern slavery around the world claims nearly 25 million victims at any time,” he said. “The victims of human trafficking are not just groups. They are fellow human beings with names, and faces, and stories,” he continued.
He told the story of a brave Azerbaijani woman, whom he called Gulnara to protect her identity, who fell victim to traffickers, but with the help of a collaboration between Azerbaijani authorities, USAID and IOM, the shelter and support she needed to recover a life lived with dignity.
He highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach. “The United States has been working for many years now, with Azerbaijan and other countries around the world, to combat this crime and to address the needs of victims like Gulnara. Our assistance to Azerbaijan is, and always has been, a partnership. Today, U.S. assistance continues to support Azerbaijan’s efforts to combat human trafficking by funding shelters for victims of human trafficking, including the one that helped Gulnara, providing training for health care professionals to identify and assist human trafficking victims, and helping government ministries strengthen their capacity to handle trafficking-related issues,” he said.