Overall it appears likely that the social impacts of climate change could lead to an increased risk of human trafficking and modern slavery, particularly in areas where climate change causes natural disasters. However, in both slow onset and sudden natural disasters it is possible to mitigate the increased risk of human trafficking by ensuring effective recovery and law enforcement practices are built into long term strategies.
“… the majority of homelessness organisations (64% of survey respondents) have, to varying degrees, encountered potential cases of modern slavery…” (p.10)
And that whilst there is a degree of recording and there is certainly some awareness of the problem:
“ …data on the numbers of potential victims of modern slavery [within the homelessness sector] is lacking or unreliable. This is either a result of a lack of recording or of a lack of information” (p. 10)
Aside from the issues in reporting, which were noted as needing improvement in their accuracy and reliability, there was a clear need from the report that greater co-operation was required across different agencies to comprehensively tackle the two overlapping issues. One of the current issues noted by the report is that the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) required reports to come from a designated first responder, which most homelessness charities are not. This causes unnecessary delays, as noted by the report, and clearly demonstrates the need for multi-agency responses, or reforms to the NRM so that a broader spectrum of organisations may act as first responders for a crime that can effect anyone from any background.
Since the report there have been a variety of handbooks and advice documents produced specifically targeting the issue of homelessness and modern slavery; from both Non Governmental and Governmental organisations, for a wide range of groups and organisations that may come across modern slavery in the homelessness sector, targeting both homelessness resulting from modern slavery or slavery resulting from homelessness.
Given the vulnerability of homeless individuals becoming victims of modern slavery, and the risk of slavery victims becoming homeless, the importance of multi-agency responses to both issues to avoid situations where individuals undergo continual cycles of exploitation is clear. As such, more research into the overlap between homelessness and modern slavery, both in terms of the nature and extent of the overlap and the effectiveness of responses, is greatly required.
Links to the full report and a short summary of the findings can be found on our e-learning page here.
The UNHCR, OECD and other international agencies are working on an ‘Action Plan’ to overcome the issue of refugee employment. This plan aims to integrate refugees into the labour market by overcoming the issues and creating a strategy to identify the skills that can actively contribute to the economy of the host nation.
Through research and interviews, having secure and safe employment is the top contributor to integration in a new society, which protects them from the potential for labour exploitation. Although each host destination has subjective conditions and labour requirements, the action plan is a holistic and broad framework composed of 10 steps:
Action 1 – Navigate the administrative framework
Action 2 – Provide employers with sufficient legal certainty
Action 3 – Identify and verify refugees’ skills
Action 4 – Developing skills for job-readiness
Action 5 – Match refugee talent with employers’ needs
Action 6 – Provide equal opportunities in recruitment and combat stereotypes
Action 7 – Prepare the working environment
Action 8 – Enable long-term employability
Action 9 – Make the business case for hiring refugees
Action 10 – Coordinate actions between all stakeholders
Whether in refuge from conflict, environmental or economic hardship, 65 million people globally have been forcibly displaced from their homes, of which refugees make up 25.5 million. Due to the nature of globalisation, these rates are increasing, along with the frequency and types of labour exploitation of refugees and vulnerable populations.
The crossing between North Africa and Southern Europe has proved to be the most dangerous refugee passage. Concern has been raised by international agencies including the IOM and UNHCR by two fatal sunken boats over three days at the beginning of July 2018.
On analysis, although this points to urgent need for action by the EU, this situation needs to be addressed carefully. Bureaucracy between Geneva and the Libyan government led to the 2018 EU backed anti-smuggling operations in Libya including tightening regulation of volunteer boats arriving on European shores, which inadvertently has impacted the increased death toll. The concern of agencies is regarding higher sanctions on boats already in transit, which will bread further desperation and in turn fatal impact if distress calls are not seen to. Hence, emphasis should be made on reinforcing search and rescue operations, assist the Libyan coast guard and a careful and collaborative approach needs to be made with the international community to curb migrant smuggling and the cause of more deaths during this crossing.
It is also important to highlight the increase of displaced and vulnerable migrants who are at risk of exploitation, given the complexities of the migrants’ journey, it is a frequent occurrence that the definitions of trafficking and smuggling become obscured. Often victims will believe they are being smuggled but become trafficked through transit or at their destination country. Factors such as political instability, economic pressures and environmental issues are often the catalysts for migrants seeking to come to Europe. Illegal migrants often rely on organised criminal networks to facilitate their passage to Europe, leading to higher risk of exploitation and further blurring of the distinction between trafficking and smuggling. The migrant crisis in Libya provides a unique yet unfortunate opportunity for clarification: the controls aimed at ending the smuggling of migrants to Europe has been the catalyst of human trafficking inland.
For Untitled Nations reporting on the migrant crisis see here: