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Response to growing rate of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in SI

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Members of HOPE Trust and Ola Fou Solomons in a group photo after the Safe PROGRAMME partnership signing on Wednesday last week.
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HONIARA, 16 JAN 2022 – A partnership agreement was signed last week to allow the commencement of the Safe PROGRAMME, a human trafficking respond-based project that aims to address an alarming growth of modern slavery in the Solomon Islands.

Representatives from Homes of Peace and Empowerment (HOPE) Trust based in Honiara and Ola Fou Solomons, a section of a regionwide youth development society, signed the formal agreement on Wednesday and will take lead in the implementation of the Safe PROGRAMME over the next five years.

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The Safe PROGRAMME is an initiative by HOPE Trust in response to recent findings by the International Labour Organisation that disclosed alarming statistics of human trafficking activities and commercial sexual exploitation – or modern slavery across the country.

The response focuses on two interrelated themes: adequate agricultural livelihood targeting mostly rural communities and the protection of modern slavery.

“Survivors will receive legal justice through local authorities having increased investigation, procedures, awareness about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation,” the project statement reads backed by funding support of the New Zealand Government and technical expertise of Hagar International, LIFT International and Fijian-based charity Homes of Hope.

“Partners, social service providers and social workers will have increased knowledge of trauma-informed care, case management, enabling increased support and multi-sector services for survivors.”

The program also sets out to build a clear awareness of human trafficking, support the relevant responding authorities and systematic improvements such as reporting mechanisms.

At the brief signing event held at the Wesley United Church Conference in Honiara, HOPE Trust Executive Program Director Prema Maeato says teaming up with Ola Fou is not a new venture and both organisations have worked together in the past, although the Safe PROGRAMME partnership is their first formal relationship.

“HOPE Trust is exited to go into partnership with Ola Fou Solomons,” the program director acknowledged. “HOPE Trust will bring our expertise on trauma-informed care with support from Hagar International into this partnership.”

Ola Fou, as a reputable agricultural organisation, will focus on improving food and income security for communities in the Safe PROGRAMME as a protective factor or prevention measure.

The Safe PROGRAMME will be formally launched on 21 January.

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