COVID-19 is affecting communities worldwide, including in areas already impacted by crisis prior to the outbreak. In addition to taking lives, the pandemic has severely impacted the global economy, resulting in loss of livelihoods, changing migration patterns and the disruption of family and social networks.
Although trafficking occurs at any time before, during, and after crises, crisis contexts can exacerbate pre-existing trafficking trends and gives rise to new ones. Traffickers capitalize on the widespread human, material, social and economic losses caused by emergencies and crises, and such losses exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities, which can force people to make decisions and take risks that they wouldn’t otherwise.
COVID-19 poses a number of challenges to communities including:
- Increased vulnerability to trafficking amongst individuals and communities who were already at risk and those who were previously not considered to be
- Increased risks for trafficked people
- Increased risks of harm and re-trafficking for people who have exited a situation of trafficking
- Negatively impacts on service provision and the ability to identify, protect and support trafficked people.