With a famine crisis occurring in the Horn of Africa, recent reports are suggesting that Kenya is rapidly becoming a destination and transport point for human trafficking.
People have been trafficked into Kenya from places such as Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan and analysts suggest that the country has the highest rate of human trafficking in the region.
However, what is particularly raising alarm in the country is the concern over the influx of people into Kenya that have been escaping drought, famine, conflict, and extremism from Somalia.
Jean-Phillipe Chauzy, the head of communications at the International Organization for Migration has expressed his concern for people fleeing to Kenya.
He told The Guardian, “As of 28 September there were more than 452,000 refugees, mostly Somalis, at Dadaab camp. The huge influx of refugees has complicated the movement of people in the region; it has increased the vulnerability of people to trafficking, smuggling and other forms of exploitation.”
In September 2011, the International Peace Institute (IPI) released a report on organized crime in the country entitled, “Termites at Work: Transnational Organized Crime and State Erosion in Kenya.”
According to IPI research, a local Kenyan non-governmental-organization (NGO) called WomanKind Kenya estimates that around 50 girls, primarily from Somalia, between the ages of 10 to 15 are sold in to trafficking every week in the country.
The IPI report suggests that the Mombasa and the Eastleigh district of Nairobi “constitute East Africa’s hub for the smuggling of migrants as well as for the trafficking of women and children for prostitution, the sex industry, and other forms of forced labor.”
The concerns are becoming so strong that several NGOs in Kenya are under investigation by the global watchdog INTERPOL.
Many worry that the corruption within Kenya is fueling the problem as traffickers have connections with official offices, the police, and even the judiciary.
The corruption is so rampant that an underlying fear is that criminal networks will eventually take Kenya “hostage.” With insurmountable levels of vulnerable people funneling themselves into Kenya’s borders daily, it appears as though these multifaceted concerns are only likely to get worse before they get better.