Ian McInnes, CEO of Tearfund New Zealand, shares with us his vision to connect anti-human trafficking work geographically across all interested Integral Alliance Members ...
Since Ian McInnes became CEO of Tearfund New Zealand four years ago, he has made it a priority to include fighting human trafficking as a core part of their work. He says, “When working in the Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis in 2008, humanitarian staff - like myself - discovered to our dismay that traffickers had beat us to the south of the country and were now moving unaccompanied children from Myanmar to Thailand to be sold into sexual-slavery.” As a Member of Integral Alliance, Tearfund NZ is exploring every opportunity for collaborating on anti-trafficking with other Members. Ian believes collaboration and strong partnerships are essential to overcome these well-coordinated criminal networks.
Ian says: “Our greatest challenge is expanding the reach of our anti-human trafficking impact and connecting our work geographically. It sometimes feels that the traffickers themselves are one step ahead of us with their global partnerships.”
In April 2016, Ian invited Integral Members TEAR Australia and CEDAR Fund (Hong Kong) to attend a ‘learning lab’. This was facilitated by Nvader one of Tearfund NZ’s partners, and Hagar, their Cambodian rehabilitation and reintegration partner. Nvader is a small team of highly professional investigators, lawyers and social workers who were responsible for 15% of all sex trafficking prosecutions in Thailand in 2015 with a 100% conviction rate. In order to provide a better understanding of their work, Nvader coordinated a mock human trafficking investigation for Integral Members through the streets of Bangkok, based on real cases. As a result of this experience, CEDAR Fund now support Nvader’s prosecution work in Thailand and TEAR Australia expressed an interest in the neighbouring country of Laos where they work already supporting a project in southern Laos. This existing project is designed to reduce the risks associated with migration of Lao people across the Thai border for work. One of these risks is, of course, human trafficking. This project is being implemented by World Concern, and is co-funded with Tearfund UK.
Tearfund NZ already had a good track record of working with other Integral Members. They had already joined forces with TEAR Australia and CEDAR Fund to support the work of their primary prevention partner Share and Care in Nepal. Tearfund NZ also support World Concern’s child protection and economic development project in Northern Sri Lanka. This project works to reduce child labour and trafficking alongside a well-established post-conflict dairy development programme implemented by World Concern.
Ian says, “Working on the Nepal Earthquake response brought us even closer together, as we jointly funded Share and Care’s response with TEAR Australia, CEDAR Fund and Tearfund UK. Tearfund NZ also supported World Concern to extend their child protection work into Nepal and to provide capacity building on child protection to Share and Care.”
Ian says: “I do believe that by working together we can achieve far more regionally and globally. My vision for 2017 and beyond is to connect anti-human trafficking work geographically across all interested Integral Alliance Members. At Tearfund NZ we will be working on further ways to do this - to share resources, best practice and learning. I believe that together we can make a larger impact on this despicable cross-border crime, which robs millions daily of a chance to have life in all its fullness and to contribute positively to their community’s development.”
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Photo: Gita, Daughter of successfully reintegrated Nepali trafficking survivor; Tearfund New Zealand