Slave markets open 24/7: refugee babies, boys, girls, women, men

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Two young victims of human trafficking, who have been rescued from the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, are receiving support at a shelter in Malawi. Credit: UNODC
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid
  • Inter Press Service

One is a refugee camp in Malawi, where such inhumane practices have been reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Malawi Police.

“I even witnessed a kind of Sunday market, where people come to buy children who were then exploited in situations of forced labor and prostitution,” said UNODC’s Maxwell Matewere on June 11.

The Dzaleka Refugee Camp, the largest in Malawi, was established in 1994 and is home to more than 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers from five different countries. It was originally designed to accommodate 10,000 people.

Most of the 90 victims rescued so far are men from Ethiopia, aged between 18 and 30, and there are also girls and women, aged between 12 and 24, from Ethiopia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A hub for the processing of human trafficking

The UNODC report also explains that women and girls are being sexually exploited in the Dzaleka refugee camp, or transported to other countries in southern Africa for sexual exploitation, while male refugees are subjected to forced labor in the camp or on farms in Malawi and other countries. in the region.

The camp is also used as a hub for processing victims of human trafficking. Traffickers recruit victims in their home countries under false pretenses, arrange for them to cross the border into Malawi and enter the camp.

Everywhere

Other refugee camps, such as the Rohingya camps in Myanmar, which house up to a million people, are also under scrutiny.

Add to that millions of people who become easy prey for traffickers and smugglers, victims of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, not to mention about six million Palestinian refugees.

An entire continent on the move

More and more vulnerable people are risking their lives on dangerous migration routes in Latin America, forced to relocate by the global food security crisis that is fueling inflation, the UN World Food Program (WFP) said ahead of World Refugee Day 2022.

“We have countries like Haiti with food inflation at 26% and we have other countries that are really off the map even with food inflation,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

The dramatic deterioration in people’s daily lives has left them with little choice but to leave their communities and head north, even if it means risking their lives, she explained.

“You all look at caravans, caravans of migrants moving, and before we talked about migration from northern Central America, but now unfortunately we talk about migration that is hemispherical. We have the whole continent on the move.”

The Darien Gap

One of the clearest signs of people’s desperation is the fact that they are willing to risk their lives by crossing the Darien Gap, a particularly difficult and dangerous forest route in Central America that provides access from the south of the continent to the north. .

“In 2020, 5,000 people passed through the Darien Gap, migrating from South America to Central America, and you know what, in 2021 151,000 people passed through, and this is 10 days of walking through a forest, 10 days of walking through rivers, crossing mountains and people die because this is one of the most dangerous jungles in the world.”

For these migrants, the reason they are on the move is simple, the WFP official explained: “They are leaving communities where they have lost everything to the climate crisis, they have no food security, they have no ability to feed their people and their families. ”

UN data shows that of the 69 economies now experiencing food, energy and financial shocks, 19 are in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Highest number of displaced children ever

Conflict, violence and other crises had displaced a record 36.5 million children by the end of 2021, UNICEFestimates – the highest number since World War II.

This figure, reported by UNICEF on June 17, includes 13.7 million children of refugees and asylum seekers and nearly 22.8 million children internally displaced as a result of conflict and violence.

These figures do not include children displaced by climate and environmental shocks or disasters, nor children displaced for the first time in 2022, including the war in Ukraine.

20 people on the run… every minute

Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror, according to UNHCR.

But while the specialized agencies of the world have legally distinguished between migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons, stateless persons, disloyalty, and so on, the fact is that they are all victims of immense inhumane suffering.

100 million… for now

At the end of 2021, the total number of people worldwide forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, fear of persecution and human rights violations was 89.3 million, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported ahead of this year’s World Refugee. Day annual marked June 20.

Armed conflicts in 23 countries

If ongoing conflicts remain unresolved and the risks of new eruptions are not mitigated, one aspect that will define the twenty-first century will be the “ever-increasing number of people forced to flee and the increasingly difficult options available to them”.

With regard to the conflict-induced wave of forced displacement, UNHCR, citing data from the World Bank, reports that a total of 23 countries with a combined population of 850 million have experienced “conflict of medium or high intensity”.

Poor countries receive 4 in 5 refugees

Data from the UNHCR report underlined the critical role developing countries play in hosting IDPs, with low- and middle-income countries hosting more than four in five refugees.

With 3.8 million refugees within its borders, Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees, followed by Colombia with 1.8 million (including Venezuelan nationals), Uganda and Pakistan (1.5 million each) and Germany (1.3 million). .

Compared to their national population, the Caribbean island of Aruba received the highest number of Venezuelans displaced abroad (one in six), while Lebanon received the highest number of refugees (one in eight), followed by Curaçao (one in 10 ), Jordan (one in 14) and Turkey (one in 23).

All of the above adds to the specific case of the increasing number of victims of climate change, which IPS already reported in his: What would Europe, the US do with one billion climate refugees?

Not new, Europeans have largely traded in people

Such a horrific practice was intensively widespread more than four centuries ago, mainly by European powers, who imprisoned, chained and shipped millions of Africans to the land of their origin: the United States of America, as well as to their colonies in Latin America and the Caribbean. .

Just look at what UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message last year on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Today “we honor the memory of the millions of people of African descent who suffered under the brutal system of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade”.

This trade created and perpetuated a global system of exploitation that had existed for more than 400 years and destroyed families, communities and economies, the UN chief said.

We humbly remember the resilience of those who endured the atrocities committed by slave traders and owners, condoned by the beneficiaries of slavery, Guterres added.

“The transatlantic slave trade ended more than two centuries ago, but the ideas of white supremacy that underpinned it remain alive.”

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service



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