Guyana’s small population has been hit with the growing epidemic of human trafficking cases, with statistics demonstrating that some 156 cases were recorded for 2018 only.This was divulged during the Social Protection Ministry’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) workshop on Wednesday where the Counter Trafficking in Persons Unit provided training to shelter managers and operators.Participants and coordinators of the training session on human traffickingCoordinator of the programme, Tanisha Williams-Corbin shared some of the alarming statistics which were recorded for last year as she stated that the ministry has seen notably high statistics in these cases. Out of the 156 persons that were assisted, some 93 were transferred to shelters and similar agencies for additional support.“We find that this training is very important and its timely. Over the past few years, the Ministry of Social Protection has recorded quite a significant increase in trafficking in persons. For 2018, we recorded and assisted 156 victims of trafficking in person. Out of the 156, 93 were referred to the facilities,” said Williams-Corbin.According to her, this trend has continued into 2019, with some eight cases reported in less than two months. For this, provisions were made for other countries and entities to contribute in these investigations.“For 2019 so far, [it’s the] same thing. To date, we have recorded eight cases of suspected trafficking in persons. 45 victims were identified on the soils of Guyana and we’re working closely with a Caribbean island and the International Organisation for Migration to repatriate one victim who was recruited in Guyana but trafficked to a Caribbean country,” she stated.The coordinator is of the view that these interactions will increase their strength in the fight against this type of human captivity.Throughout the session, stakeholders were provided with information and systems in places which were set up to combat trafficking by understanding the nature of these crimes. Moreover, they are briefed on how to communicate with victims. Meanwhile, Probation and Social Services Officer, Denise Ralph gave a backdrop of the importance of these sessions to shelter operators as she stated that these agencies are the first exposure to the victims after they’re rescued.It was mentioned that these persons should not be placed in environments where they feel unsafe or vulnerable.“We targeted these persons because when the victims are placed in protective care, [they] are the ones that have direct contact with those persons. Those persons are placed there for a reason. They’re placed there to be protected from perpetrators who threaten them. When these victims have to go to court, they need a safe place where we can have them housed so that they wouldn’t have other members there to influence them,” said Ralph.The Guyana Police Force has also played a role in locating trafficked persons and preventing such incidents. In its 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US-State Department noted that although the Guyana Government meets the minimum standards, it did not provide adequate protection and shelter outside the capital, or for child and male victims.It said the number of trafficking investigations and new prosecutions decreased, and the number of successful convictions remained low.