Saturday, June 25

Climate crisis leaving ‘millions at risk of trafficking and slavery’ | Global development

Millions of people forced from their homes due to severe drought and powerful cyclones are at risk of modern slavery and human trafficking for decades to come, a new report warns.

The climate crisis and the increasing frequency of extreme weather disasters, including floods, droughts and mega fires, are having a devastating effect on the livelihoods of people already living in poverty and making them more vulnerable to slavery, according to the report released today.

Researchers from International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and International against slavery He found that the drought in northern Ghana had prompted young men and women to migrate to major cities. Many women start working as porters and are at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and debt bondage, a modern form of slavery in which workers are trapped at work and exploited to pay off a huge debt. .

Boys on winches turning aluminum pots
Children working in an aluminum pot factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Up to 85 million children work in hazardous jobs around the world. Photograph: NurPhoto / Getty

A woman, who migrated to Accra from northern Ghana, used to farm until floods ruined the land and she was forced to move. For seven years she has worked as a goalkeeper (Kayayie), carrying objects on the head.

She said, “Work like Kayayie It has not been easy for me. When I got here, I didn’t know anything about work. They told me that the woman who provides us with our pans will also feed us and give us accommodation. However, all my earnings go to her and only sometimes she gives me a small part of the money I have earned. “

He once dropped a customer’s items and had to pay for damages, which he couldn’t afford. The woman in charge paid on the condition that she return the money. She added: “I have been working non-stop and have not been able to pay.”

A Bangladeshi woman
A woman from the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, who moved to Kolkata after a cyclone to support her family. Now you can’t go home without your employer’s permission. Photography: Somnath Hazra

In Sundarbans, on the India-Bangladesh border, strong cyclones have caused flooding in the delta, reducing the land available for agriculture. With countries in the region tightening restrictions on immigration, researchers found that smugglers and traffickers operating in the disaster-prone region were targeting widows and men desperate to cross the border into India to find employment and income. Victims of trafficking were often forced into forced labor and prostitution, and some worked in clandestine workshops along the border.

Fran Witt, Advisor on Climate Change and Modern Slavery at Anti-Slavery International, said: “Our research shows the ripple effect of climate change on the lives of millions of people. Extreme weather events contribute to the destruction of the environment, forcing people to abandon their homes and leaving them vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation and slavery ”.

The World Bank estimates that, by 2050, the impact of the climate crisis, such as low crop yields, lack of water and rising sea levels, will force more than 216 million people in six regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America, from their homes.

The report is a stark warning to world leaders ahead of the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November and calls on them to ensure that efforts to address the climate emergency also address modern slavery. The report says that migrant and labor rights abuses are ignored in the interest of rapid economic growth and development.

Ritu Bharadwaj, a researcher at IIED, said: “The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking that is being driven by climate change. Addressing these issues must be an integral part of global plans to address climate change. “

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