Crowd-funding portal set up to help fight human trafficking

Crowd-funding portal set up to help fight human trafficking
Thai national police chief Somyot Poompanmuang stands next to boxes of documents during a news conference on a recent human trafficking case in Bangkok
PHOTO: Reuters

The 6Degree.org project is a result of a public-private partnership between Microsoft and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

It is part of IOM X, a campaign to encourage public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking produced in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and supported by Azure, Microsoft's cloud-computing platform.

Andrew Bruce, director of the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said the organisation had provided more than 70,000 survivors of human trafficking with humanitarian, medical, legal and migration support since 1997.

On average, IOM helps 6,000 to 7,000 trafficking survivors every year.

The crowd-funding portal is designed to provide the means for individual donors to help individual survivors of trafficking and give them a second chance at life.

Donations made through 6Degree.org will be used to pay for shelter, medical and legal assistance, repatriation, and education and skill development.

At 6Degree.org, stories of real cases of IOM's assistance to individual human-trafficking victims are available, though the beneficiaries are kept anonymous. There are no photographs of faces and information that could compromise their safety or chances of a normal life has been modified.

Each survivor's story is told through an interactive story map, aimed at providing a balance between protecting the person's identity and telling a compelling story to potential donors.

The interactive map allows people to follow the journey of each former victim, with significant milestones illustrated by clickable icons.

Each click presents a narrative elaborating on the survivor's experience at that point in their journey.

People can follow the story icon to icon, after which they will understand the circumstances that led victims to being trafficked and the challenges faced during their exploitation, and learn how they reclaimed their freedom to pursue their dreams and ambitions for the future, IOM says.

According to the United Nations, 20.9 million men, women and children are victims of human trafficking and exploitation worldwide. More than half of these, about 11.7 million, are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Stefan Sjostrom, vice president for the public sector, Microsoft Asia, said the company provided technologies and solutions to fight all kinds of crimes, including human trafficking. Microsoft is working with Interpol and local governments and police to utilise the company's technologies and resources to fight crime in many ways, such as supporting investigations and prosecutions.

It gives its partners access to the knowledge and techniques pioneered by the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.

"Within the next couple of months, we will have two Microsoft Digital Crimes Units in Asia-Pacific, in Japan and Singapore.

We are ready to support the operations against human trafficking with our resources and technologies through collaboration with government, police, and non-profit organisations," Sjostrom said.

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