Home Office pledges millions to tackle worldwide slavery

Projects to protect vulnerable girls from trafficking in Ethiopia and improve care standards for victims of modern slavery in Nepal are among those receiving part of a £4 million funding boost from the Home Office.

The Modern Slavery Innovation Fund (MSIF) has awarded up to £800,000 each to projects in Mauritius, South Africa, India, Nepal and Malaysia, as well as to the United Nations University.

Jasmine O’Connor, CEO of Anti-Slavery International, said: "With the UK Home Office Modern Slavery Innovation Fund grant, we aim to build networks of support that will help migrant workers ensure decent working conditions and provide safe mechanisms to raise grievances.

"We’re looking forward to working with retail brands, their Mauritian suppliers, local unions and authorities to fully protect migrant workers from exploitation."

In the UK, failure to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 carries a huge potential for reputational damage.

CEO of Airmic, John Ludlow, says: "If you think that slavery is ancient history or at least someone else’s problem, then think again. It is estimated that there are more than 40 million slaves globally, more than a million of them in Europe. Companies operating in the UK with a global turnover in excess of £36m have a legal duty to combat it.

"A look at the situation in the hospitality industry serves to illustrate the scale of the problem. The number of sex slaves working in and around hotels in Europe alone is put at 93,000 and the number of other slaves at 4,500. There are thought to be more than 12,500 labour slaves working in European restaurants. These are people forced to work without any profit for themselves – a monumental level of human suffering."

So far there have been no high-profile prosecutions under the MSA.

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