The government has committed more than £50m worth of aid programmes to fighting modern slavery in Africa and Asia.
As international development secretary Penny Mordaunt headed to New York for a UN General Assembly meeting, the Department for International Development (DfID) announced four individual aid packages going towards nations in central and east Africa and south Asia, totalling £53m.
More than half of the funding will go towards tackling child labour in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal and Pakistan, it said, rolling out “evidence-based interventions” that aim to tackle drivers of child labour, such as social protection and cash transfer support for families affected.
A further £5m will specifically go to helping child tea estate workers in Bangladesh, in a bid to “build an evidence base of what works and pilot innovative approaches”.
Partnering with charity UNICEF, the UK will also provide up to 400,000 children in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan “at risk of slavery” with birth certificates so children can legally prove their identity in a bid to shelter them from forced labour, in a £10m package.
The remaining £12m will go towards supporting conflict-affected families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), providing skills training, alternative livelihood opportunities and education for children on the disguised risks of trafficking.
Aid spending on fighting modern slavery worldwide was doubled to £150m last year, rising by more than a third with this latest package.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mordaunt said: “From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, the insidious virus of modern slavery is infiltrating all aspects of our daily life without us even realising. Not only does it have a huge cost to the global and the UK’s economy, it is a shameful stain on our global conscience that must be eradicated for good.
“No one nation can banish this borderless crime alone. The international community must collaborate to dismantle predatory trafficking networks, support victims, strengthen justice systems and create sustainable alternative livelihoods.”
Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins, added: “Denying people their freedom and basic human rights through modern slavery is a global tragedy. We as governments, businesses and citizens must do all we can to stop it.
“The UK and our partners are going further, showing leadership and setting out these new principles designed to drive out slavery from the supply chains which we will all benefit from.”