Authorities have rescued 64 victims of human trafficking and people smuggling during an INTERPOL-coordinated operation in Mali.
The victims – mostly women and girls – were rescued from sexual exploitation forced labour in the mining sector, as well as forced begging.
Operation Horonya, which means ‘freedom’ in Bambara, took place from 3 to 11 October to support the Malian authorities to identify and dismantle the criminal groups operating in the country and more widely across the region.
Police also conducted raids at known trafficking and smuggling hotspots in the country. The nearly 70 victims identified and rescued came from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Nigeria and were working in bars, homes and mining sites.
Among them were three young boys rescued from an illegally operated Koranic school, where they were allegedly forced to beg for money. Four suspected traffickers have been detained awaiting sentencing. .
Mali serves as major transit country for human traffickers who target the most vulnerable members of society. Investigations are ongoing to identify additional suspects.