Trafficking in human beings is a severe form of human rights violations and one of the most severe challenges any society may face. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the plight of victims of trafficking and fueled vulnerabilities to human trafficking due to lockdown measures, travel restrictions, and other emergency measures imposed to combat the global health crisis. The setting of emergency measures has made identifying (potential) victims of human trafficking even more complicated. The victims are more exposed to contracting the virus, less equipped to prevent it, and with less access to healthcare to ensure their recovery. Essential and practical operations to support and assist them have become a challenge due to governments’ shifting priorities over the course of the pandemic.
From January 2020 to October 2020, ASTRA recorded an increase in the number of calls sent to the SOS hotline by over 70%. The number of field actions aimed at direct assistance to victims also increased by 44%. For some of the victims and all other people facing restrictive movement measures, calling the SOS hotline was sometimes the only contact with the “outside world.” Old clients called, but also new ones. During this period, ASTRA identified 29 new victims of human trafficking and provided them with first aid and support. Besides, ASTRA’s SOS line was also often contacted by domestic / partner violence victims, which has become more pronounced since the pandemic. We referred them to associates from other organizations, specialized in this type of problem, and the competent bodies we cooperate with. In that sea of calls, some callers were only confused by the mixed messages and contradictory information from the Government and the media. Also, the vast majority do not have access to personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or disinfectants.
To mitigate the vulnerability of (potential) victims of human trafficking and other risk groups during the COVID-19 virus pandemic, to train them for the first protection against the virus but also against the dangers of human trafficking, ASTRA launches a campaign SOLIDAR AND UNITED against COVID19 and trafficking in human beings.
To achieve this, in the coming period, we plan to conduct an intensive awareness-raising campaign on COVID-19 protective measures and the impact of the crisis caused by the presence of the virus on victims and potential victims of human trafficking. For this purpose, we have created two information booklets. One is intended for adults who are at high risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. The other booklet contains similar materials adapted to the needs of children at risk. Together with personal protective equipment, these booklets will be disseminated to existing clients and their families, to local organizations and networks that assist vulnerable groups in their communities, shelters for children and adults, organizations dealing with homeless children or children without parental care, centers for social care, etc. We will make a special effort to reach those to whom massive media and the Internet are not available. A dynamic campaign on the organization’s social networks will accompany these activities. An integral part of the campaign will be texts and visuals specially created for the campaign and booklets.
The campaign is part of the eponymous project „SOLIDAR AND UNITED against COVID19 and trafficking in human beings“, which is implemented with the support of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – acting in on behalf of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
You can view and download electronic versions of the booklet for children and adults from the following links:
Booklet for adults: PROTECTION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN THE CORONA TIME
Booklet for children: YOUR RIGHT to protection from human trafficking during the Covid-19 pandemic
We invite you to follow our activities in the coming period and help spread this vital information through your networks.