Survey reveals widespread exploitation of migrants

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lampedusa migrant boat

18.10.2016 – Almost three-quarters of migrants taking the Mediterranean routes connecting North Africa to Europe have experienced exploitation and practices which may amount to human trafficking, according to a report published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The findings are based on an in-depth analysis of close to 9,000 survey responses taken over the last ten months along the Central and Eastern Mediterranean routes at arrival locations in Southern Italy. They provide strong evidence of predatory behaviour by smugglers and traffickers, and the kinds of environments within which trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse thrive.

The survey includes six questions that are proxy indicators for potential human trafficking or exploitative practices, such as being forced to perform work or activities against their will, carrying out work or performing activities without getting the payment expected and being kept at locations against their will (by entities other than governmental authorities). For the Central Mediterranean route, 49% of respondents reported having been held in a location against their will during the journey in situations that amount to kidnapping for the purpose of requesting a ransom.  Libya, a country experiencing protracted instability, is the location where the vast majority of cases of abuse were reported.


What emerges most clearly from the data is that the longer a migrant spends in transit, the more vulnerable they are to exploitation and/or human trafficking. In fact, 79% of migrants who had spent at least one year in a country different from that of origin had experienced at last one of the surveyed exploitative practices.

Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of Mission for IOM UK, stated that it is important for us to “see what more can be done to support those on the migratory trails, as well as those who have reached Europe. We need to remember that regardless of the reasons that people move, or their background, they deserve protection”.