The global financial crisis is feeding both the supply and demand for human trafficking, the State Department warned today in its annual international survey of trafficking.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to highlight the issue at a press conference this morning, where she will officially unveil the report.
The report, mandated by Congress, looks at the efforts of nations around the world to combat severe forms of human trafficking. Millions of people are believed to be trafficked across international borders each year for forced or coerced labor and for sexual exploitation.
High levels of unemployment and poverty worldwide are making people more vulnerable to human traffickers, this year’s report says. Asia is of particular concern, the report says, because it already has a high level of job insecurity and a high prevalaence of forced labor. Those facing hardship are also more vulnerable because they are willing to take more risks, the report said.
At the same time, the report concludes that the global economic crisis is also boosting the demand side of human trafficking, as the need for cheaper and cheaper sources of labor rises. “Employers facing a credit crunch are ceasing payments or coercing workers to accept less
agreeable conditions,” the report says.
The report also cites an unprecedented, official warning earlier this year from the Chinese government, which told workers to avoid migrating to Europe because of the increasing threat of nonpayment and the “potential for severe exploitation in the economic downturn,” the
State Department said.