x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

More support for victims in overcoming their trauma

New programme offer victims of human trafficking an alternative to staying in dedicated shelters

DUBAI // Victims of human trafficking in the emirate no longer need to stay in a shelter while waiting for their cases to be tried in court.

Dubai Police have introduced a programme, "You Are Not Alone", to provide help and support to victims outside the walls of shelters.

Before this programme, victims had to be located in one of four shelters.

"Many victims would prefer not to report that they are victims of human trafficking as they do not want to stay in shelters for a long period of time as they do not trust authorities," said Major Dr Sultan al Jamal, the director of the Anti Human Trafficking Control Centre, which is supervising the programme.

The main objectives of the programme, according to Dr al Jamal, is to enhance trust between Dubai Police and victims as well as ensuring that they do not fall "into the claws" of human traffickers.

"This programme has helped enhance trust between us and the victims, which means that more victims or family members are coming forward and seeking help from us," said Dr al Jamal. "Several of the human trafficking cases discovered last year were reported either by victims or their family members."

The programme, which police started last year, has helped 10 of 61 victims. The victims receive legal, financial, social and psychological support through weekly follow-up sessions.

"We try to provide all types of support until they are repatriated back home," said Dr al Jamal. "We even helped one of the cases find job and stay in the UAE."

Meanwhile, Afra al Basti, the executive director of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said these sorts of initiatives were imprudent: "What is the purpose of having such programmes when we have shelters in the country providing the comprehensive care? We should not have duplications; it is a waste of resources."