Modern-day slavery? The scope of trafficking in persons in Africa.
Hundreds of thousands of African men, women and children are being forced into situations of labour and sexual exploitation both on the continent and abroad every year. Internationally, trafficking in persons has been identified as a serious threat to human security and development by governments, pressure groups and the UN. But for many African governments, the problem has only recently been acknowledged. This article, the first in a two part series on the issue, outlines the types and extent of trafficking in Africa, with a focus on West and Central Africa. Contributing factors, in particular the high profit margins and low risk of arrest and conviction, are reviewed as well as the impact on human rights, public health, community and family development and the growth of organised crime. The second article in the series will consider successful strategies and international programmes, with a focus on the lessons learned for Africa from West Africa. (author's)