Washington (AFP), July 1 – The United States said Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has created an “ideal environment” for human trafficking to flourish as governments divert resources to the health crisis and traffickers take advantage of vulnerable people.
The Department of State’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2021” also downgraded several countries and re-rated others for their efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking.
“Covid-19 has generated conditions that have increased the number of people vulnerable to human trafficking and interrupted existing and planned anti-trafficking interventions,” the annual report says.
“Governments around the world have diverted resources to the pandemic, often to the detriment of anti-trafficking efforts,” the report says.
“At the same time, human traffickers have quickly adapted to capitalize on the vulnerabilities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic,” he added.
Kari Johnstone, Acting Director of the Office for Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons, said this confluence of factors “has resulted in an ideal environment for human trafficking to flourish and evolve.”
For example, according to the report, “In India and Nepal, young girls in poor and rural areas were often expected to drop out of school to help support their families during economic hardship.
“Some were forced to marry in exchange for money, while others were forced to work to supplement the loss of income,” he said.
In some countries, landlords forced their tenants, usually women, to have sex with them when they could not pay the rent while gangs in some countries attacked people in IDP camps.
The report ranks countries around the world according to their compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA).
Six countries were demoted from Level 1 – the highest ranking – to Level 2: Cyprus, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland.
Tier 2 countries do not “fully meet” the minimum TVPA standards “but are making significant efforts to become compliant”.
Two countries – Guinea-Bissau and Malaysia – were added to the Tier 3 list of worst offenders, a list that already included Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, China, Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia and South Sudan. , Syria, Turkmenistan and Venezuela.
Four countries – Belarus, Burundi, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea – were removed from level 3 and placed on the level 2 watch list.
The United States may restrict foreign aid to Tier 3 countries subject to Presidential approval.
Turkey, a NATO member, has been cited for violations of the law on preventing child soldiers for the use of child soldiers by Turkish-backed groups in Syria and Libya.
“The United States hopes to work with Turkey to encourage all groups involved in the Syrian and Libyan conflicts not to use child soldiers,” a senior State Department official said.