A United Nations human rights expert on Wednesday called on South Sudan to strengthen prevention measures and improve protection and support for victims of human trafficking.
Urgent actions are needed to prevent trafficking, ensure assistance and protection, and accountability, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Siobhan Mullally said.
"At this junction of peacebuilding and state-building in South Sudan, urgent action to prevent trafficking in persons and to protect survivors, especially women and children, is crucial," Mullally told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
She said internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence, coupled with climate-induced displacement, gender inequality, and limited access to education, increases the risk of trafficking, including child recruitment and marriage, sexual exploitation, forced labour, and domestic servitude.
"Prevention of trafficking in persons for all purposes of exploitation and protection of survivors to ensure a human rights and survivors-centred response to trafficking in persons are paramount," Mullally said.
The UN expert concluded a 10-day visit to South Sudan, where she examined trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and child and forced marriage, including among refugees, internally displaced persons, and returnees.
Mullally visited Juba, Bentiu, and Nimule, and met representatives of the government, law enforcement, UN officials, civil society, and survivors of trafficking in persons.