Citing a lack of reliable human trafficking data, a UN anti-trafficking project announced July 3 that it is holding a competition encouraging people to present methodologies for estimating the number of trafficking victims in the region.
The UN inter-agency project on human trafficking in the Greater Mekong sub-region, which covers Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, launched the competition to address the need for human trafficking statistics.
“Even after nearly 10 years of attention to human trafficking, estimates of the number of human trafficking victims are very limited and generally lack empirical merit,” the competition guidelines state. “This lack of understanding has significant impact on the efficiency and progress of counter-trafficking interventions.”
Prizes for the competition, which started July 3 and ends Aug 30, include funding to implement the top methodologies.
Matt Friedman, regional project manager of UNIAP, wrote by e-mail July 4 that although efforts have previously been made to come up with reliable figures on human trafficking, they have been unsuccessful.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that the government already has reliable human trafficking numbers, but referred questions to Un Sokunthea, chief of the ministry’s anti-trafficking department. Un Sokunthea could not be reached for comment July 4.
You Ay, secretary of state for the Woman’s Affairs Ministry, said collecting data on human trafficking is difficult because NGOs are hesitant to provide data. “We don’t get numbers of persons being trafficked because it is difficult to gather information from NGOs,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)