Millions of dollars spent on anti-trafficking efforts globally, yet trafficked people miss out, international rights group says


Embargoed until 06:01 ICT, 23 September 2014

Governments, the United Nations and private foundations are pouring millions of dollars into work to stop human trafficking, yet very little of this actually reaches trafficked people themselves, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) says on the launch of its Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 3. There is also a concerning lack of transparency among governments, international organisations and civil society regarding funding for anti-trafficking and how it is spent.

The latest issue of GAATW’s journal the Anti-Trafficking Review presents the first attempt to examine funding and spending in efforts to stop human trafficking around the world. Featuring articles from donors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academics, this edition explores where the money comes from, who it goes to and what it actually achieves.

“Governments are spending vast amounts on anti-trafficking work, and money from private sources has increased in recent years,” says Bandana Pattanaik, GAATW International Coordinator, “However, very little is known about the effectiveness of much anti-trafficking programming – and in fact GAATW has previously documented how some anti-trafficking initiatives fail, or even harm, trafficked people, migrants and women. The international community cannot continue to throw money at the issue, without assessing the results of the work, or without consultation with the intended beneficiaries.”

Research by journal editors suggests that in 2011 the European Union gave USD 15 million to projects with anti-trafficking aims, while the US government gave USD 50.7 million to international projects and another USD 20 million for domestic ones. The only other large donor that currently spends more than USD 10 million a year is Norway, which spent USD 12.4 million in 2011. In 2013, private donors Walk Free and Humanity United started allocating substantial amounts to what they term ‘anti-slavery’ initiatives. However, information and data on anti-trafficking funding is patchy, inconsistent and difficult to access, highlighting a need for increased transparency.

Very little of the money actually reaches trafficked persons, particularly in terms of direct payments and assistance for recovery and economic and social inclusion (known as ‘re/integration’). GAATW Board Member Victoria Nwogu’s article illustrates how, due to insufficient resources for re/integration, the Nigerian government disbursed only USD 425 each to 47 out of the 777 victims eligible for assistance payments during 2013. In addition, victim services are sometimes not allocated nearly enough money and long-term services such as re/integration in particular are ignored by funders.  An article by authors Rebecca Surtees and Fabrice de Kerchove details donors’ lack of interest in longer-term re/integration and some of the risks of failed programmes for trafficked persons in the Balkans.

Money earmarked for anti-trafficking is spent on varying activities around the world, and often depends on government interpretations of what trafficking involves and what actions are needed to stop it. What gets funded can also be influenced by the prejudices and alternative agendas of donors. For example, journal author Suzanne Hoff, International Coordinator of La Strada International, talks about the US government’s anti-prostitution pledge, which requires organisations seeking US funding to agree an organisation-wide policy opposing prostitution – something that GAATW strongly disagrees with.

Other governments under scrutiny in the journal issue include those of Canada, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

“GAATW calls for greater transparency on the part of anti-trafficking donors – whether they be governments or the UN or private organisations – about how much is being spent and exactly what this money is achieving. We also call for donor decisions to be anchored in human rights and the protection of the rights of migrants, women and trafficked people,” says Pattanaik.

Notes to editors:

  • Interviews are available with:
  • Rebecca Napier-Moore, Editor, Anti-Trafficking Review
  • Mike Dottridge, Guest Editor, Anti-Trafficking Review
  • Bandana Pattanaik, International Coordinator, GAATW
  • To arrange interviews or for an embargoed copy of the journal, please contact:

Jasmin Qureshi, Communications Officer, GAATW, Bangkok, Thailand

Tel: +66 (0) 94056 7281 / Email: / @GAATW_IS


  • The journal will be available at on 23 September.
  • GAATW is holding a launch event for the Anti-Trafficking Review at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok, at 18:30-20:00 on 23 September 2014. If you would like to attend, please contact
  • The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is a non-profit organisation that works to protect and uphold the human rights of migrating and trafficked women around the world. Representing a global network of 127 non-governmental organisations, we focus on the issues of migration, labour and human trafficking, with a special emphasis on women. Our activities involve research, communications and advocacy in order to hold governments accountable, increase access to justice for migrating and trafficked women and further the global debate on the issues.
  • GAATW is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year at its International Members’ Congress, a meeting of 100 representatives from GAATW’s alliance. More information here

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