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Southeast AsiaPhilippines

Combating human trafficking in the Philippines

The COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects increase the risk of Filipino domestic workers becoming victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation. In 2021, AWO International and the Philippine NGO Ople Center formed a partnership to respond to these new challenges for Filipino migrant workers.

A woman stands in front of a banner with the words "Livelihood Training".
Returned migrant workers are supported by the project in their search for alternative income opportunities.

Together with the Ople Center, AWO International is strengthening anti-trafficking measures in the Philippines. The joint project aims to ensure that migrant workers have the opportunity to choose safe migration routes and that their rights are protected throughout the migration process.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased the risk of Filipino domestic workers becoming victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse.

Despite pandemic-related travel and mobility restrictions, the number of reported trafficking cases was high. The Ople Center documented a total of 1,576 serious cases of exploitation of Filipino domestic workers in 2020 alone.

AWO International, together with the Regional Committee on Combating Trafficking in Persons and Violence against Women and Children, is combating human trafficking in the Bangsamoro region. This includes awareness campaigns and the launch of a digital portal for case management and reintegration support for former migrant workers.


The Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, or Ople Center, is a non-profit organisation that works on labour and migration issues and develops programmes to support Filipino expatriate workers and their families. The organisation is named after the former Philippine Secretary of Labour and Foreign Relations, Blas F. Ople.


Project Protecting migrant workers from exploitation by strengthening social structures, building alliances, applying ethical standards and information technology.
Place/Region Philippines with a special focus on the Autonomous Region of Bangsamoro for the Muslims of Mindanao (BARMM).
Partner Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute
Target group Filipino migrant workers (especially female domestic workers, minors or victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation); prospective migrant workers; government; civil society; recruitment agencies
  • Building and strengthening community-based organisations and encouraging them to use innovative technologies to protect migrant workers from trafficking and other forms of exploitation. 
  • Increasing the participation of former migrant workers who have been trafficked and exploited in programming and policy-making.  
  • Lobbying for the strengthening of mechanisms to detect and respond to trafficking in the Philippines' ports of entry and exit. 
Duration 1 September 2021 to 31 December 2023
Budget 74,000 EUR p.a.
Sponsor BMZ

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