Trafficking in armed conflict has taken on horrific dimensions – child soldiers, forced labour, sexual slavery, according to a newly released report by the United Nations. It says global trafficking gangs are targeting victims in refugee camps across the Middle East and Asia.
The increased likelihood of impunity in conflict zones is driving traffickers to target fleeing populations from countries including Syria, Iraq and Myanmar.
As reported by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), refugee camps in the Middle East report of young women and girls “‘married off’ without their consent and subjected to sexual exploitation in neighbouring countries.”
However, the majority of victims in the Middle East remain adults involved in forced labour, most often from Syria.
For the rest of the Gulf, it is almost exclusively a destination for trafficking victims from other regions, often South Asia. Qatar is accused of using Nepalese forced labour in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Across the globe, women and girls continue to be particularly targeted, making up 72% of all victims.
The trafficking of children remains a particular concern. While minors make up almost a third of global victims, it is as high as 75% in areas such as West Africa.