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The Vulnerability Report: Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region

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CHIANG RAI –To mark the International Migration Day on 18 December, World Vision has released The Vulnerability Report: Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. World Vision is calling for trafficking prevention agencies to raise awareness on the risks of migration by empowering youths to take up protective behaviours.

Human trafficking is a serious crime that affects men, women and children around the world. It involves putting or keeping someone in an exploitative situation, usually for profit. Exploitation can involve situations including forced or debt-bonded labour, child labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude or armed conflict.

The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is made up of six countries connected by the Mekong River: Cambodia, China, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. With limited opportunities for safe and legal migration in the GMS, irregular migration is widespread, creating a fertile breeding ground for the trafficking and exploitation of migrants.

GMS governments, UN agencies, and many non-governmental organisations, including World Vision, are working hard to combat human trafficking. World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons (ETIP) Programme, a regional antitrafficking programme, is being implemented from October 2011 to September 2016. Working in and across the six countries of the GMS, ETIP is the largest anti-trafficking program of its kind.

Knowing about the risks of human trafficking is not stopping an estimated 3 to 5 million people from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam from migrating for work in richer neighbouring countries, a new research study has found.

The lure of earning enough money to send back to their families often overrides known risks or actual previous experiences of exploitation, dangerous working conditions or excessive hours, revealed the World Vision research being launched days before International Migration Day on 18 December.

“This is the first time we can confirm, with empirical evidence, that prevention work relying on raising awareness is not enough. Young people will continue to migrate. It’s time trafficking prevention agencies shift the focus of prevention work to safe migration,” said John Whan Yoon, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons Regional Programme Manager.

“Raising awareness on the risks of migration needs to focus on changing risky behaviour to protective behaviours, such as travelling with formal documents and keeping in regular contact with family members,” Whan Yoon added.

The Vulnerability Report: Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, a first of its kind regional study supported by a leading UK research university, draws on responses from close to 10,000 children, young people and adults in communities across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report further found that young people who knew how to protect themselves were more likely to have a job with good working conditions and earn enough money to send home.

“We are not advocating for young people to move beyond their borders for work. However, we are seeking to empower youth with protective behaviours that could keep them safe in case they decide to work in another country,” Whan Yoon said.

Across Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Myanmar, World Vision works with young people children and youth clubs where they learn about safe migration and how to protect themselves from the risks of exploitation and from being trafficked.

The report’s release also coincides with an art and multimedia exhibition at the Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre from 16-21 December entitled “Journey of Voices” –hosted by World Vision and the International Labour Organisation as part of the inter-agency Saphan Siang campaign – to bring attention to the realities of the migrant labour experience in the region.

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