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Uber SA moves to help fight human trafficking

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Nduduzo Nyanda, country manager for Uber South Africa.
Nduduzo Nyanda, country manager for Uber South Africa.

E-hailing firm Uber SA has partnered with A21, a global anti-human-trafficking organisation, to provide new resources and refreshed tips to educate drivers and delivery employees on how human trafficking works, and how they can report it, or reach out for help.

The partnership comes as SA marks Human Trafficking Awareness week, with human trafficking cases and reports on the rise in SA and globally.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year, according to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

SA, which is a source, transit and destination country for victims of human trafficking, is considered to be on the “tier two watchlist” for human-trafficking countries which have increasing levels of criminal activity, according to non-profit The Borgen Project.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that over 40 million people around the world are trapped in some form of human trafficking.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, the resulting economic instability and social disruption have caused many individuals to be more vulnerable to violence, abuse and human trafficking.

According to A21, during April 2020, when most communities were in lockdown, the SA National Human Trafficking Hotline saw a 47.8% increase in crisis trafficking situations reported, compared to April 2019.

Partnering with A21 will enable Uber to deliver learning materials and notifications to drivers and delivery employees via the Uber mobile app, as well as e-mails providing resources and tips for identifying human trafficking situations.

A podcast will also be made available, on the Uber partner radio which all drivers have access to, where they can learn more about the hotline and warning signs of a human trafficking situation.

“We want to reinforce our commitment to helping raise awareness of this heinous crime and be a part of the solution by using our technology and expansive network to help mobilise communities and connect people to further resources,” says Nduduzo Nyanda, country manager for Uber SA.

“By providing them with resources and education with the help of A21, we want to encourage them to be vigilant while on the road and we hope to disrupt the human trafficking industry and take a step towards building safer communities for everyone.”

A21 says for the past 10 years, it has been working to free slaves and disrupt the demand for human trafficking across the globe.

According to media reports, some perpetrators are opting to use e-hailing services to transport victims of trafficking instead of personal vehicles.

Uber drivers and delivery staff come into contact with many different people every day and the ride-hailing firm believes they can be the eyes and ears of the community.

“The shocking reality is that only about 1% of victims caught in slavery will ever be rescued,” says Katie Modrau, country manager for A21 in South Africa.

“That’s why it is important that more people understand what human trafficking is and how to identify it, as there is more chance of a victim being rescued. With these new resources, Uber drivers and delivery people will serve as crucial partners in helping prevent and eliminate human trafficking and exploitation."

If you believe you have witnessed something that might be human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 0800 222 777, or visit A21’s Web site for more information.

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