Now more than ever, children need protection from predatory criminals who turn the vulnerability and desperation of their victims into big business. Human trafficking — the buying and selling of people for exploitative purposes — thrives in times of conflict and crisis, according to a study of 148 countries released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"Human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters," says Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, citing child soldiers, forced labor and sexual slavery as examples.
Though it’s not clear how improvements in detection, recording and reporting methods have contributed to the rise, the conditions that put children at risk are clear. Turning war, political corruption, poverty and natural disasters to their advantage, traffickers are now generating approximately $39 billion annually on the exploitation of children alone.
According to the latest global estimates, over 150 million children are subjected to child labor with nearly half in hazardous forms of work. One in four victims of modern slavery are children and are mostly girls.
Whether it is the trafficking of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the exploitation of Central American migrants bound for the United States, the sexual enslavement of women and girls in Europe, or the forced labor of sub-Saharan Africans or refugees from the Middle East, desperate families and individuals often feel they have little choice but to risk exploitation in an effort to survive.
Advocate: Send a letter to your elected officials to let them know that trafficking is an issue that matters to you
Join UNICEF UNITE: UNICEF UNITE is UNICEF USA's grassroots movement, composed of volunteer-led and staff-supported local teams across the country advocating or taking action day in and day out to put children first. Become a UNITER today by visiting unicefunite.org
If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is your best resource. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.
Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.
Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline Web Chat via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat