Human Trafficking in Seychelles
Despite being heavily isolated off the African coast, Seychelles is susceptible to human trafficking concerns. Documented cases of sex trafficking as well as trafficking for labor reflect this. The federal government has made several steps to combat human trafficking in Seychelles, most of which the U.S. Department of State documented.

The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act

The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act, adopted April 25, 2014, provides for the “prohibition, prevention and combating of trafficking in persons.” This law effectively criminalizes both sex trafficking and trafficking for labor within Seychelles.

For offenses involving adult victims, the punishment is set at a maximum of 14 years imprisonment with a fine of up to $35,457. For offenses involving children, there is a maximum punishment of 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $56,731. Conflicting statutes within the penal code created unclear regulations for the age of consent. The understood age of consent is 15 years, but the legal age for majority is 18 years.

The National Action Plan

In 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) worked with the government to develop a National Action Plan against trafficking. This process involved developing a national referral mechanism for victims and establishing standard operating procedures for human trafficking cases. However, the Seychelles government did not implement the plan at the end of the 2021 reporting period.

Reports indicated that there were three cases of human trafficking in Seychelles within the 2021 reporting period. Two cases were labor and sex trafficking respectively while one was an instance of both. Eleven suspected traffickers were arrested in the 2021 reporting period. Twelve prosecutions of human traffickers also remain ongoing.

The government maintained two hotlines with the police, immigration and social services respectively to report various crimes including trafficking. The employment department also established a hotline for concerns about forced labor.

Additionally, the government collaborated with the Transnational Organised Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Program (UNODC) to aid in the fight against human trafficking. This workshop occurred on July 6, 2021, and aimed to improve upon efforts to investigate and prosecute human traffickers.

Johan Kruger, the head of UNODC was present at this workshop. While speaking of the scope of human trafficking concerns, Kruger stated that “the fight against trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants requires a multi-jurisdictional and transnational approach.”

Protection for Victims and Witnesses

In recent years, the government has improved its protection efforts for victims of human trafficking. In the year 2021, there were 14 reported victims of human trafficking in Seychelles (both labor and sex trafficking). These victims were all foreigners from India, Nepal and Kenya. Seychelles also reported that up to 80 men and women were either trafficked sexually or sexually abused.

In 2017, the government and an unspecified international organization drafted new regulations for the 2014 anti-trafficking law. These regulations aimed to provide new protections for trafficking victims in Seychelles. At the end of the 2021 reporting period, this legislation has still not had an introduction to the National Assembly.

The Child Law Reform Committee also introduced legislation that reportedly increases protections for victims of sex trafficking and increases the responsibility of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute child sex crimes.

Additionally, in 2019, the government began drafting an immigration bill that would require work permit cards for all citizens and foreign workers. The intention is for these cards to include anti-trafficking information as well as contact information for assistance. This bill was awaiting approval from the National Assembly at the end of the 2021 reporting period.

Victim Assistance and Raising Awareness

 There are several instances of victim assistance that are underway in Seychelles, in addition to efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking. These include:

  • The National Coordinating Committee on Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIP) met six times during the 2021 reporting period. This committee emerged to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts across the government and influence national policy decisions. The Committee received $84,075 to aid with victim assistance and other prevention efforts.
  • Nine victims of human trafficking in Seychelles received support for basic needs as well as shelter. The government also provided shelter to foreign nationals waiting to testify in a human trafficking trial.
  • The 2014 anti-trafficking law provided victims the option to testify via closed-circuit television to alleviate safety concerns. The law also allows for courtroom accommodations for the mental comfort of human trafficking victims.
  • The Ministry of Employment also inspected 573 work sites for possible indications of trafficking. However, it did not find labor victims or indications of trafficking at these sites.
  • One limiting factor for the Ministry of Employment was its lack of jurisdiction within the Seychelles International Trade Zone (SITZ). This ultimately hurt its ability to protect migrants and report trafficking concerns.
  • The government enhanced efforts to inform the public of the dangers of human trafficking in Seychelles. The government distributed about 1,500 pamphlets and leaflets on labor trafficking to airports, seaports, government agencies and employers of migrant workers. These pamphlets were available in both English and French to accommodate the varying demographics.

 Overall and despite much room for improvement, Seychelles has made progress in terms of dealing with human trafficking concerns. This progress should continue in order to serve victims of human trafficking as well as punish those responsible for it.

– Max Cole
Photo: Flickr

Heroin Use in Seychelles
In 2019, the Republic of Seychelles had the world’s worst reported heroin usage rate per capita. About 10% of the working-age population, between 5,000 and 6,000 people, had an addiction to heroin. The archipelago’s total population in 2019 was only 94,000. Seychelles’ opioid use rates have also consistently been among the world’s highest rates. These have continued to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Heroin use in Seychelles continues to be an epidemic, but some are implementing measures to combat it.

Why Seychelles is Suffering a Heroin Epidemic

Seychelles is a developing country in the Indian Ocean that includes more than 100 islands. The nature of Seychelles’ borders makes it difficult for law enforcement to intercept heroin arriving primarily from Afghanistan. Even during the pandemic, while lockdown measures were in place, the drug market continued to flourish in Seychelles with steady imports of illicit drugs as other markets struggled.

Heroin is so abundant that the cost of a line has dropped from about 1,000 Seychellois rupees to about 30 rupees. By 2020, the typical salary in Seychelles was $420 or approximately 5,400 rupees. With about 40% of the country’s population living in poverty, heroin has become an affordable option for drug users. People living in poverty are also more likely to use drugs like heroin and engage in drug-related crime than people who are financially better off. Additionally, impoverished people who are drug addicts tend to lack access to the addiction services and other forms of support they need to recover.

By 2011, the number of heroin users was about 1,200. The alarming and quickly rising number of users prompted the government to engage in a war on drugs. The war involved implementing strict enforcement on drug traffickers and addicts alike. However, the increase in users over the years accompanying the significant drop in the cost of heroin shows the ineffectiveness of cracking down on addicts. As a result, the government of Seychelles shifted its focus to drug prevention and rehabilitation.

Efforts to Curtail Heroin Use in Seychelles

In 2020, Seychelles’ government invested 75 million Seychellois rupees toward prevention and rehabilitation, nearly ten times what it invested in 2016. The Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation (APDAR) also emerged in 2017. Enrolled in its programs are more than 2,000 people, 68% of whom have gainful employment. The agency offers a high- and low-threshold program for addicts.

People who participate in the high-threshold program receive in-patient care and go through detoxification. Those registered for the low-threshold program primarily learn harm reduction strategies designed to reduce drug abuse’s negative impacts. APDAR also engages in prevention efforts, demand reduction and aftercare programs. In 2018, the agency designed a national plan to deal with heroin use in Seychelles. Included in the plan is a rehabilitation village offering residency to drug users and their families which began construction in 2020.

Seychelles has a notable lack of NGOs to provide support to people dealing with drug addiction. In 2012, an NGO called CARE launched a drug abuse education and awareness campaign targeting youths. Young people make up a large proportion of Seychelle’s heroin users. Therefore, education informing youths of the dangers of heroin is necessary to reduce the number of future addicts.

Stopping the Heroin Epidemic

The pandemic certainly has not helped to reduce heroin use in Seychelles. However, with complex and well-funded prevention and rehabilitation programs in place, heroin addicts and their families can get the help they need. Relapse is always a possibility for users as getting and staying clean is a difficult thing to achieve. However, with time, Seychelles can bring the number of users down to what it was in 2011, and then reduce the number even further.

– Nate Ritchie
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Seychelles
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located at the eastern edge of the Somali sea and is home to Africa’s smallest nation with just 97,625 people. The tropical climate, white sand beaches and crystal-clear lagoons make it a popular vacation destination. However, like many tourist economies, Seychelles’ tourism sector struggled under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on travel. But, thanks to an ambitious campaign, COVID-19 vaccinations in Seychelles is a success story, putting the island in the spotlight for holding one of the highest rates of vaccinations in the world. This is despite a May 2021 surge in infections that led to the reimposition of mandates (such as school closures and a ban on bars and nightclubs), causing global concern about the efficacy of vaccination programs.

Facts About COVID-19 Vaccinations in Seychelles

  • On January 10, 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations in Seychelles hit the news when the nation became the first in Africa to roll out the vaccine after receiving a donation of 50,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As part of an effort to bolster vaccine confidence, President Wavel Ramkalawan stood as “the first African head of state” to receive this particular vaccine, followed by former president Danny Faure and other senior officials.
  • On January 23, 2021, Seychelles received a second donation of COVID-19 vaccinations, this time from India: 50,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as Covishield.
  • Seychelles had vaccinated more than 60% of its population against COVID-19 by May 2021. Still, the country saw a sharp increase of new cases, from 120 new COVID-19 cases confirmed on April 30, 2021, to more than 300 cases per day recorded on May 7 and May 8, 2021.  More than a third of these new cases were among people who received two doses of the vaccine. The remaining cases were people who only received a single dose or no dose at all.
  • In September 2021, the U.S. Embassy to Mauritius and Seychelles announced the delivery of more than 35,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from the United States. The donation forms part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to sharing the U.S. vaccine supply with countries worldwide.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between January 3, 2020, and October 21, 2021, Seychelles has recorded 22,071 cases of COVID-19 and 114 deaths. As of October 15, 2021, the nation has administered a total of 159,392 COVID-19 vaccines.

Paving the Path to Recovery

With a majority vaccinated population, Seychelles is open for business and welcomes foreign visitors. To protect Seychellois, the government requires a negative COVID-19 test for all arrivals to the islands, including fully vaccinated travelers. As Seychelles rebuilds its tourist industry, the government is making progress with strategies to diversify the economy and is calling on investors. In a July 2021 interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN), President Ramkalawan reported that Seychelles’ new economic plan emphasizes fisheries and agriculture, construction of hotels and the launching of fish processing facilities. Ramkalawan’s administration is actively seeking ways for Seychelles to “build itself anew” in order to create a balanced and robust economy. A successful and robust vaccination campaign has paved the way for Seychelles to rebuild and recover.

–  Jenny Rice
Photo: Flickr

How to help people in Seychelles
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located off the eastern coast of Africa, north of Madagascar. It has the highest GDP per capita in Africa at $15,476 in 2015. Its extreme poverty rate is low (1.1 percent in 2013) as is its moderate poverty rate (2.5 percent in 2013).

Despite the low poverty rates, inequality is an issue in Seychelles. The poorest 20 percent of the population only holds 3.7 percent of the country’s wealth. The disparities between urban and rural areas are also substantial. The poverty rate in rural areas (as a percentage of the rural population) is 37.2 percent.

The economy of Seychelles depends on fishing (particularly tuna fishing) and tourism, both of which are impacted by the environment. Climate change disproportionately affects people in Seychelles. They also lack access to natural freshwater resources and face water pollution due to poor sewage management and industrial runoff. Natural and manmade disasters such as landslides, fires and oil spills affect the environment and hamper tourism.

The issues of piracy that have plagued the coast of Somalia also affect Seychelles. Due to the spread-out nature of the islands, it is difficult to guarantee the security of all people. The threat of pirates affects tourism, yachting and fishing which damages the economy.

Previously, NATO ran a counter-piracy operation called Operation Ocean Shield that was designed to protect people from pirates on the eastern coast of Africa. However, this program ended in 2016, once again leaving the people of Seychelles vulnerable.

With an understanding of the issues that Seychelles faces, the question now is how to help people in Seychelles. There are several steps that can be taken:

  1. Urge representatives to support American and/or NATO anti-piracy measures.
  2. Support climate change policies and solutions. Those who contribute the least to climate change are those who are affected the most.
  3. Consider donating to one of the following organizations that address some of the above concerns in Seychelles:

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Seychelles Seychelles is an African nation consisting of many islands located off of the east coast of Kenya. Due to its geographical location, some of the common diseases in Seychelles are mosquito- and animal-borne.

Three of the more common diseases in Seychelles are dengue fever, chikungunya and leptospirosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dengue fever and chikungunya have a number of common symptoms. Fever, joint pain and headaches are some of the more prevalent symptoms of dengue and chikungunya.  Even though both have overlapping symptoms, they are still separate diseases and it is possible to be infected by both diseases at the same time.

Dengue fever and chikungunya are both viruses that are spread by mosquitos. Thanks to the tropical climate that Seychelles has, it is a high breeding ground for mosquitos, meaning that these diseases can be spread easily. In 2005 to 2007, it was reported that there was an epidemic of chikungunya in Seychelles that infected about 60 percent of the population.

Thankfully, a French team from the World Health Organization (WHO) went to Seychelles and assisted the islands. They destroyed domestic breeding sites of mosquitoes and began a public health education campaign.

There are no vaccines for chikungunya but there is a vaccine for dengue fever. However, only a few countries have approved the use of the dengue vaccine. Because the mosquitos in Seychelles can bite indoors or outdoors and are active both day and night, preventative measures are the best way to ward off these diseases. Wearing long sleeves and using bug sprays are common ways to prevent mosquito bites. Cleaning and covering standing water can help prevent mosquito-breeding sites.

Another one of the common diseases in Seychelles is leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection spread through animal urine. Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, liver failure and death if left untreated. Like chikungunya, leptospirosis currently does not have a vaccine available to prevent it. However, since leptospirosis is bacterial, antibiotics can be prescribed as treatment.

Much like dengue fever and chikungunya, preventative measures are the best way to not become infected. Avoiding areas where infected urine may be found are unclean water sources, soil after rainfall and animal habitats is the best preventative measure against leptospirosis.

Thankfully, research is well underway to get a vaccine for chikungunya and leptospirosis. Due to the outbreak of chikungunya, knowledge was gained on how the virus behaves and that has allowed scientists to be one step closer to produce stronger tools against it.

Daniel Borjas

Causes of Poverty in Seychelles

Although only around one percent of citizens in Seychelles live in extreme poverty, the country hopes to assist those living in that condition and eventually bring them out of poverty. Here are some of the causes of poverty in Seychelles and how the government is responding to it.

One of the causes of poverty in Seychelles is its dependence on tourism. When the global economy is struggling, tourism is a luxury that many people give up. When tourism declines, this severely affects the majority of Seychelles’ economy. Beyond that, Seychelles is uncomfortable with raising the cost of tourism to make the country more competitive with other tourist destinations; the country strongly values their reputation as an inexpensive place to visit.

Both of these factors culminate into a strong economy that nevertheless cannot sustain its growth. eTurbo News discusses how Seychelles maintains a decent gross domestic product. Unfortunately, a lack of national or international competition prevents the country from soliciting economic improvement.

The stagnant economy exacerbates other causes of poverty in Seychelles, one of which is the incredibly high cost of living. One of many reasons for this is a value-added tax on many items, which makes buying and selling those items very expensive for both the consumer and the producer.

Another of the causes of poverty in Seychelles is the lack of basic needs for the poorer citizens of the country. A study explored in Seychelles News Agency highlights how a large number of Seychellois people lack clean water, food and electricity. The survey also highlights the effects of drug abuse on poverty in Seychelles. In turn, this drug use leads to a lot of ineffective crime punishment.

Because of the causes of poverty in Seychelles, the government is developing programs to assist the poor in the country. Already, the government of Seychelles has implemented short-term intervention programs aimed at making sure families have access to water, food and all-around adequate living conditions. These programs are a fantastic first step aimed at alleviating poverty for Seychelles’ poorest citizens and hopefully they will continue to help even more people.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in SeychellesJames A. Michel, the former president of Seychelles, attended a General Assembly for the United Nations in September of 2008 to discuss hunger in Seychelles as one of the enemies the Seychellois face daily.

According to the U.N., he also addressed the poverty and inequality of the global trading system that causes hunger in Seychelles. Alluding to the morality of the citizens in the Assembly Hall, Michel set clear commitments to resolve the climate, energy and food crises, among others.

The U.N. also clarified that his concepts suggest that industrialized countries should remove subsidies given to their farmers and provide the global South with urgently-needed resources to improve its infrastructure.

With about 90,000 inhabitants off the eastern coast of Africa and northeast of Madagascar, the Republic of Seychelles has the smallest population of all African countries.

While it is a naturalist’s playground and widely celebrated for its ecotourism on the mainland, inhabitants continue to look to global organizations such as Global Citizen, Save The Children, UNICEF and UNDP for support related to hunger in Seychelles. Part of this global support was the founding of a Global Island Partnership to get all small islands and nations with islands to give part of their natural resources to conservation sustainability.

The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the islands live with several inconvenient circumstances, such as expensive food from remote markets. Another issue is the spread of aggressive creepers that have carried destructive diseases to some of the major forest lands during the last 40 years. One factor that limits agricultural production is the current forest laws that ban development on about half of the country’s land. This ultimately results in more hunger in Seychelles.

“Of the total value of tuna – our ‘blue gold’ – caught and transhipped in our waters by foreign fishing vessels every year, the Seychelles receives only 7 percent in revenue, comprising license and transhipment fees. This to my mind is unacceptable,” Michel announced to the Assembly. He suggested a restored United Nations to lessen foreign manipulation by investors for the country’s natural resources.

Correspondingly, the FAO monitored progress towards reducing hunger in Seychelles. The data displayed that of the total population from 2006-2008, over 83,000 people were undernourished.

One must remember that the slightest efforts have an impact on the mission to end world hunger. People should do what they can to help advocate for and support the less fortunate, as these affairs have the possibility to have a constructive outcome communally.

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) aims to give all people, especially those in vulnerable situations, access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round. They also intend to double the agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers by the year 2030.

To get involved, consider occupying your time collaboratively by joining the global conversation using the hashtag #sey4sdg in support of the SDG 2: NO HUNGER.

Jalil Perry

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Seychelles
The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 low-lying, granitic islands in the western Indian Ocean. This sovereign country is a popular holiday getaway for tourists wishing to lounge on its stunning beaches; discover its diverse ecological system; and visit ancient volcanos. Water quality in Seychelles remains a major issue, however.

Though the Republic’s 1993 Constitution defines access to potable water as a basic right to all Seychellois, water shortage and pollution is a defining factor of the archipelago.

While local tap water meets World Health Organization’s specifications, the Seychelles Islands official tourism website advises visitors to drink bottled water because the chlorinated tap water may not be safe to drink. Furthermore, because water quality in Seychelles is variable in undeveloped areas, it is recommended that tap water be boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected before consumption.

The islands’ groundwater resources are extremely limited, and the terrain makes it even harder to procure fresh water. Due to the country’s prevailing granitic landscape, water that is available is often too hard and salty to consume.

Of course, rapid change in weather and rainfall patterns is a global phenomenon and is not uncommon to Seychelles. Shifting weather patterns directly affect the water supply and reduce the precious steam flow, making it difficult for groundwater to recharge.

Most of the water in Seychelles comes from hills and streams from the mountainside, flowing more freely during monsoon and rain seasons. As a result of heavy rainfall, storm surge, flooding and poor sanitation, the presence of water-related bacterial infections—including Campylobacter jejuni, small strains of E.coli, cholera and other contaminants—in the country’s water supply can cause traveler’s diarrhea, a term used to describe gastrointestinal infections caused by ingesting bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

Four desalination plants compensate for the water shortage during drier seasons and produce potable water. They help enhance water reliability of the three main islands. The country is not only managing its scarce water resources, but it is also searching for more water. Of course, water quality in Seychelles remains an accompanying concern.

Options such as drilling for underground water are currently being explored to supplement the existing surface water (usually accumulating on slippery rock fissures if not running off to sea) and add to the water supply of dams and desalination plants.

In November 2009, the Seychelles National Climate Change Committee embarked on an ambitious vision to engage all levels of the Seychellois society in combating the potentially disastrous effects of climate change.

The committee recognized that water resources in islands as small as Seychelles were “likely to be seriously compromised”—both due to growing demand and climate change —and predicted that Seychelles would be facing “serious water shortages in the near future.”

This was despite the presence of extensive water distribution networks that served about 87% of the population with treated water. Furthermore, an increase in surface air temperatures would result in reduced streamflow due to water evaporation and further exacerbate the problem of water supply.

By 2030, the water demand on the main island of Mahé is expected to grow by 130%. Currently, Seychelles can only meet 60% of its residents’ water.

Earlier this month, a ban on manufacturing, distribution and commercial usage of common plastic items—such as Styrofoam containers, utensils and cups—went into effect in an attempt to make Seychelles cleaner and more beautiful.

The Environmental Protection Regulations of 2017 restrict the importation of certain types of plastic bags and authorize importation permits for biodegradable bags. Treatment of wastewater is being upgraded through renovations of existing sewerage pumping stations and construction of five new ones, with a Sanitation Master Plan currently in the works.

Furthermore, a new Center for Ocean Restoration, Awareness and Learning (CORAL) opened in May 2017 on the island of Praslin to study, brainstorm ideas and increase awareness of the ocean-conservation efforts by bringing scientists and students together from all over the world.

Seychelles is the smallest African state, with only about 84,000 people. Its sustainable tourism model remains an example for the rest of the world. As the archipelago comes to terms with its water shortage and pollution problems, reliable and sustainable water supply remains as essential as ever. If the water quality in Seychelles can be improved, the quality of life of residents and tourists—and their future generations—will only become better.

Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

Located off the coast of Africa is a small country called Seychelles. Despite numerous hurdles that made receiving an education in Seychelles a struggle, the Ministry of Education has made important strides in the educational system since the country’s formation.

After gaining independence in 1976, Seychelles had little formal education made available to the people. In fact, the government did not start a program to improve the adult literacy rate until the late 1980s.

This program encouraged adults to attend literacy classes and school, if possible, to improve their education. Consequently, the adult literacy rate rose as high as 85 percent in 1991. Today, the literacy rate is around 94 percent, taking into account all residents of the small country.

The improvement in literacy is not the only good news about education in Seychelles, though. Since 1981, the government has supported free education, allowing children to attend school without having to pay for tuition. Also, the government mandates for students aged 16 and younger to attend school.

This is all a result of the government’s effort to improve education in Seychelles to benefit all residents. According to Commonwealth Education Online, the government wants to “empower young people in order to enhance national productivity and social cohesion, and to enable them to participate fully in the global marketplace.”

These plans are going well, as around 94 percent of children now complete primary education in Seychelles.

In 2000, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) laid out goals for 164 countries to achieve by 2015. Some of these goals concerned adult literacy and early childhood development and education. By 2014, Seychelles was the only country in Africa to meet the goal of providing education to all residents before the 2015 deadline. Other countries in Africa made significant strides in their education systems. However, according to the Seychelles News Agency, 31 of these countries are not expected to achieve UNESCO’s goals until as late as 2020.

Clearly, the government has made improving education in Seychelles a top priority. Though the country has not opened a university for the continuation of education, a teaching college is available. Many students choose to study in the United Kingdom for university tuition, and the government is in cooperation with the University of London to open a center for higher learning in the island nation.

Education in Seychelles has come a long way since the country’s formation, and only plans on improving.

Jacqueline Nicole Artz

Photo: Flickr