The Union home ministry has asked states and union territories to strengthen facilities for vulnerable groups, especially children, who have been orphaned in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to check human trafficking, a government statement said on Friday.

The Centre said it is giving high priority to prevent and combat crime against women, children, senior citizens and scheduled castes/ scheduled tribes, and is putting in place institutional mechanisms for preventing and countering human trafficking.

''Taking into account the impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on vulnerable groups, the MHA has again reiterated to states/union territories to focus on vulnerable sections, especially children, who may have been orphaned due to loss of parents due to COVID-19,'' it said.

The Centre has asked states and union territories to ''immediately review'' the existing facilities for such groups, especially for children who have been orphaned, senior citizens who may require timely assistance and support (medical as well as safety and security), and members of the scheduled castes/scheduled tribes who may need guidance to access government-supported facilities.

The states have been asked to effectively deploy the women help desk in police stations and anti-human trafficking units in districts.

The Centre has asked states to use National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) tools like Crime Multi Centre Agency (Cri-MAC) for sharing inter-state information among police, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) for tracking missing persons and automated photo matching web-based application UNIFY to search pictures of missing persons, unidentified bodies, among others.