Refugees And Migrants Are Falling Victim To Human Traffickers

(originally posted December 26, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)

The number of migrants and refugees has been increasing worldwide over the last few years, which has resulted in migrants and refugees being more vulnerable to human traffickers.

A UN study found that an influx of migrants and refugees has contributed to a rise in male and child refugees being abused by human traffickers.

While it is estimated that women and girls make up over 70% of all human trafficking victims because they tend to be trafficked for marriage or sexual slavery, the UN report found that men and boys tend to be exploited for forced labor, porters, soldiers and slaves. The number of male trafficking victims globally has increased from 13% in 2004 to 21% in 2014. In addition, it is also estimated that the percentage of trafficking victims placed into forced labor has risen from 32% in 2007 to 38% in 2014, and of that 38%, almost two-thirds were male.

The UNODC’S global report on trafficking reported that children account for nearly a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide. In regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean, the number is increasing to around two-thirds.

Head of the UN Office on Drugs and crime, Yury Fedotov, highlights how those fleeing their countries from conflict are more vulnerable and prone to human trafficking, due to their devastating situation;

“The rapid increase in the number of Syrian victims of trafficking in persons following the start of the conflict there, for instance, seems to be one example of how these vulnerabilities play out.”

According to an EU report on human trafficking, which was conducted at the beginning of 2016, criminal gangs were the main perpetrators that were forcing and exploiting refugees and migrants into sex work and other forms of slavery. The report estimated that around 96,000 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in Europe in 2015, which is around one-fifth of the total number of child refugees in Europe. However, the EU police agency reported in early 2016 that around 10,000 of unaccompanied child refugees and migrants went missing since arriving in Europe. During this time, around 4,700 child refugees had been missing, according to German authorities

It was estimated that Human smugglers have taken advantage of hundreds of vulnerable refugees, in order to make a profit by exploiting refugee’s misery. Last year it was reported that human smugglers accumulated a record profit between £2bn and £4bn ($3bn-$6bn.) Many refugees have little knowledge about asylum, therefore they are more likely to seek help from human smugglers, which is why human smugglers made such a large profit off of refugees last year.

calais.jpgImage of Calais Jungle camp via Getty Images

The Calais Jungle camp is a refugee camp in Calais, France, and is a prime example of the horrible conditions that some refugees have to endure, and how these refugees are vulnerable to human traffickers. The camp consists of disgusting living conditions, very basic shelter, inadequate hygiene, and little personal security. The estimated number of refugees living in the camp varies, as an operation to clear the camp has taken place since October 2016. It is currently estimated that roughly 6,000 people have been living there since the dismantling of the camp. Many of these refugees have fallen victim to human trafficking and young girls are at high risk of sexual exploitation.

The US Department of State uploaded ’15 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking’ on their website, in order for you to become more informed on the issue and what you can do to help tackle it. Donating to NGO’s can also provide refugees with safer living situations that will reduce the risk of sexual exploitation and other forms of slavery. Donating to NGO’s such as UNICEF, Oxfam, Rescue.org, Refugee Action and much more can help improve the life’s of refugees while tackling human trafficking.