First Successful Implementation of the National Referral Mechanism in Ha Giang

First Successful Implementation of the National Referral Mechanism in Ha Giang

  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation
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    In many cases, recovery and reintegration services by local or regional governments are not well enough equipped or lack the coordination needed to effectively provide services to survivors. However, capacity of local governments to provide survivor care is an essential part to systems change. Without it, survivors can be re-trafficked

    In Ha Giang province, Vietnam, GFEMS supported Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation to develop a model for the implementation of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) at the local level, leading to significant improvements in victim identification and service delivery for the first time. As the Fund’s partner in Vietnam, Blue Dragon has assisted nine survivors and their families to access benefits from the NRM thus far. 

    NRM is a set of regulations that instructs government officials on how to identify and refer victims of trafficking to rehabilitation services and support survivors in receiving assistance and care. While the NRM is designed to ensure that victims of trafficking receive the support they require to overcome their trafficking experiences, reintegrate into the community, and avoid re-trafficking, fully implementing it has been a challenge across Vietnam.

    Previous to the GFEMS and Blue Dragon intervention in Ha Giang, few victims were being identified and none had received financial assistance or support services for reintegration. Many victims returned to their communities without assistance and were unaware of how to seek victim support or services. Ha Giang, like many other provinces, faced difficulties in ensuring the interagency collaboration necessary to apply NRM policies. As part of the project, Blue Dragon aimed to support government partners in Ha Giang to develop an effective provincial level mechanism for implementation of the NRM policies.

    With support from GFEMS, Blue Dragon and relevant government authorities, primarily the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (DoLISA) and the police, tested the NRM by applying it in one district of Ha Giang. Four survivors of trafficking who had recently returned from exploitation in China were identified. Local DoLISA staff worked with police to confirm the victims’ identities and experiences. After receiving their identity confirmation certificates, the province released an emergency assistance payment for each survivor as stipulated in the policy. The certificates also qualified each survivor for reintegration services, such as free vocational training, health care, and psychological care, should they choose to seek them. 

    After this initial success in one district, Blue Dragon collaborated with DoLISA to support NRM implementation throughout the entire province. Blue Dragon supported its government partners to develop a provincial-level mechanism for the local implementation of national referral mechanism policies, strengthen inter-agency information-sharing mechanisms, and institutionalize these within existing reporting structures. These efforts proved successful at building coordination among the anti-trafficking stakeholders involved, overcoming a significant barrier to the provision of effective support to survivors.

    As a result of this collaboration and implementation of the NRM, 9 trafficking survivors were identified, referred, and received reintegration support from government sources during the project. The success of this intervention model provides a template for strengthening local systems for victim support and protection that can be scaled and replicated across other provinces in Vietnam and potentially beyond. It forms the basis of comprehensive survivor care, necessary for full systems change.

    GFEMS and Blue Dragon look forward to sharing future updates on the implementation of the NRM in Ha Giang. To keep updated on this story, subscribe to the Fund’s newsletter and follow us on Twitter. 


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    This article and the Blue Dragon project were funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.