(CTN NEWS) – VIENNA – As opportunities for trafficking and policing decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of victims of human trafficking decreased for the first time in 20 years.
However, the Ukraine war has likely resulted in a fresh spike, according to a U.N. assessment released Tuesday.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in its seventh Global Report on Trafficking in Persons that the number of victims identified as traffickers decreased by 11% in 2020.
The most recent year for which data are available in most nations.
In a report summary, the UNODC noted that “in 2020, for the first time, the number of victims detected globally decreased,” adding that the largest drops had been observed in low- and middle-income nations.
Particularly in South and Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the Pacific region.
“This trend change could result from three main variables affecting especially low- and medium-income countries during the pandemic: the poorer institutional capacity to discover victims.
Fewer opportunities for traffickers to operate due to COVID-19 preventive limitations, and some trafficking forms moving to more concealed and less likely to be caught areas,” it stated.
Parts of southeast Asia, central America, and the Caribbean could see further declines in 2021, according to preliminary data from just 20 countries, it added.
The biggest decrease, of 24%, was in trafficking for sexual exploitation.
For the first time since the UNODC began compiling statistics, it discovered trafficking in this category, as a percentage of the total, was approximately on par with trafficking for forced labor, at about 39% each, according to the report.
The UNODC stated that sexual exploitation may have decreased due to the (pandemic-related) shutdown of public venues and may also have been driven into less visible and unsafe areas, making this form of trafficking more covert and challenging to identify.
The crisis in Ukraine is unlikely to be an exception to the rule that conflicts tend to boost trafficking, it was added.
“For the displaced people of Ukraine, the refugee crisis is increasing the risk of trafficking.
The number of Ukrainian casualties found in Western Europe in 2016 increased fourfold due to the crisis in Ukraine in 2014″ About Russia’s annexation of Crimea, it stated.
In addition, it stated that in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, it anticipates an even higher number of victims of trafficking.
RELATED CTN NEWS: