Trends in Human Trafficking – Issue no. 15 – EEPA News Highlights

Dear readers,

The EEPA team is pleased to present the 15th issue of the newsletter on Trends in Human Trafficking between the Greater Horn of Africa and Europe. Please feel free to forward this information to others or invite them to subscribe via this link. If you have information to contribute, do not hesitate to contact us.

Research & Reports:

UNODC report warns of increased risk for refugees and migrants amidst COVID-19
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a report calling for increased protection of smuggled migrants amidst COVID-19. The report warns that since the onset of COVID-19, more dangerous smuggling routes have been used, and violence against those on the move has increased. UNODC states that human traffickers have quickly adjusted their modus operandi to the new situation to take advantage of increased vulnerabilities.

COVID-19 And The Smuggling Of Migrants

Migrants and refugees in Libya face Crimes Against Humanity, says report
Research by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) details potential crimes against humanity committed against migrants and refugees in Libya. The report accompanied a communication sent by the organisations to the International Criminal Court in November 2021. Of particular concern to the organisations is the violence perpetrated in human trafficking in Libya. The report warns that “the interchangeable use of the terms “smuggling” and “trafficking” reveals a perspective focused exclusively on preventing the arrival of migrants and refugees on European shores which ignores the fact that some migrants and refugees never intended to cross the Mediterranean but were forced to do so.”

NO WAY OUT: Migrants and Refugees Trapped in Libya Face Crimes Against Humanity

Armed groups and trafficking in Libya and the Central Sahel
An article published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism by author Joelle Rizk explores the relation between armed groups and the trafficking and smuggling of people in the Central Sahel and Libya. The author concludes that the view of human trafficking as interwoven with terrorism leads to a militarised response, which tends to overlook the human cost of the involvement of armed groups in human trafficking. Rather, the author argues that the armed groups involved in human trafficking operate within the social fabric and socio-economic dynamics of their environment. Therefore, the armed groups exploit state fragility, corruption and local networks to

create intricate systems to create thriving human trafficking networks.

Exploring the Nexus between Armed Groups and the Trafficking and Smuggling of Human Beings in the Central Sahel and Libya

Addressing trauma of asylum seekers from East Africa
An article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by Youngmann et al. discusses trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health care of asylum seekers from East Africa who reside in Israel. The asylum seekers have often suffered severe trauma from events such as human trafficking for ransom with severe torture practices. Almost 80% of the respondents, of Sudanese and Eritrean origin, had experienced at least one traumatic event, mostly en route. The authors conclude that their study shows that “Governmental policies and international conventions on the definition of human trafficking may need to be revised, as well as asylum seekers’ rights and access to health services related to visa status.”

Trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Mental Health Care of Asylum Seekers

An overview of human trafficking review
Author Sheldon Zhang published an article in the Journal of Human Trafficking on two decades of research on human trafficking, following the adoption of the Palermo Protocol. The article gives an overview of the developments within the body of literature, covering the definitions of human trafficking and what counts as trafficking in empirical settings; strategies to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking; and the evaluation of anti-trafficking interventions. The author notes that research on human trafficking increasingly influences policy making.

Progress and Challenges in Human Trafficking Research: Two Decades after the Palermo Protocol

GRETA report shows increase in trafficking referrals in the UK
A report by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) shows that the number of reported human trafficking victims has increased almost tenfold in less than 10 years. The report warns that victims of human trafficking in the United Kingdom may be increasingly vulnerable to trafficking amidst Brexit and UK immigration policy reforms. Those policies may also make victims less likely to come forward, as they fear to be deported or arrested for illegal migration.

UK records huge jump in human trafficking referrals: Report

Report on vulnerability of Ethiopian refugees in Sudan
A report by the Chr. Michelsen Institute covers conditions in the refugee camps in Eastern Sudan. Many refugees fleeing the war in Ethiopia are currently hosted there. However, conditions leave refugees vulnerable to threats such as human trafficking.

Eastern Sudan: Hosting Ethiopian refugees under tough conditions

News Articles:

Europol warns that human trafficking networks are increasingly digitalized
Europol has reported that networks of human smugglers and also human traffickers have continued to operate despite COVID-19 restrictions, partly due to their increasingly digitalized modus operandi. According to Europol, networks increasingly use and abuse tools such as mobile applications, social media platforms and encrypted communication tools; they also use digital technology to secure payments and profits.

Europol: Migrant Smuggling & Human Trafficking Networks More Digitalised Than Ever

Notorious human trafficker Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam placed on most-wanted list
Under the leadership of the Dutch public prosecutor, notorious Eritrean trafficker Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam has been placed on the international most-wanted list. Dutch police and Europol are looking for any clues on the whereabouts and the crimes of Kidane. Kidane is accused of extorting and torturing refugees and migrants in Libya. Kidane was arrested in Ethiopia, but escaped from prison. He was sentenced in absentia.

European task force established to locate ‘cruellest’ human trafficker

Dutch Police website: Kidane Zekarias Habtemariam

Amnesty International comments on the conditions in Libya after 5 years of EU/Libya cooperation
Marking five years of cooperation on stopping irregular migration between the European Union (EU) and Libya, Amnesty International comments on the continued human rights abuses. Amnesty expresses concern that through the agreement, the Libyan coast guard continues to be supported to take people back to Libya, where they face abuses, including torture. Earlier, an internal EU report recommended to continue the cooperation, despite acknowledging that the Libyan coast guard is no longer fully following EU training, and that it is guilty of “excessive use of force.”

Libya/EU: Conditions remain ‘hellish’ as EU marks 5 years of cooperation agreements

EU report calls for Libya training to continue despite migrant abuse claims Access to the comments

IOM launches the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative
The International Organization on Migration (IOM) has partnered with Microsoft to release a global data portal on human trafficking. The databank covers the profiles of victims, including details about the exploitation and the trafficking process. IOM says the data can help to build evidence-based responses to trafficking. The databank includes data of 156,000 victims and survivors of trafficking across 189 countries and territories; IOM emphasizes it has used “strong privacy guarantees that preserve the anonymity and safety of victims and survivors.” 

IOM-Microsoft Collaboration  Enables  Release of Largest Public Dataset  to Bolster Fight Against Human Trafficking

Facebook doing too little to address human trafficking on its platform
CNN states that Facebook has long been aware that it has a human trafficking problem on its platform, but has failed to adequately address it. Internal Facebook documents seen by CNN acknowledge that gaps in its policies still exist. The form of trafficking it concerns in this case is domestic servitude, where people are trafficked for the purpose of working in domestic homes. Reports on the issue have been repressed by Facebook, states CNN.

Facebook has known it has a human trafficking problem for years. It still hasn’t fully fixed it

Disclaimer: All information in these highlights is presented as a fluid update report, as to the best knowledge and understanding of the authors at the moment of publication. EEPA does not claim that the information is correct but verifies to the best of ability within the circumstances. Publication is weighed on the basis of interest to understand potential impacts of events (or perceptions of these) on the situation. Check all information against updates and other media. EEPA does not take responsibility for the use of the information or impact thereof. All information reported originates from third parties and the content of all reported and linked information remains the sole responsibility of these third parties. Report to any additional information and corrections.