During times of war, the state goes through a great deal of turmoil. Conflict zones and crisis situations are infamous for the violation of human rights. Under the reign of the armed forces, the masses are subjected to multiple forms of abuse. The primary victim to this has always been women and children.
The discussion about human trafficking has gathered attention in the last decade. Nevertheless, these crimes against women and children often go unnoticed by both governments and non-governmental organizations. During a war, with the army defending the borders, everything else seems rather insignificant. Civilians and prisoners of war are moved across states and borders for a variety of purposes. From sex slavery to organ trade, the list of horrific crimes is long.
Exploitation in such states is usually facilitated by individual factors such as household income, social status as well as other factors such as the breakdown of legal structures, loss of livelihood and destruction of social networks. Poverty among civilians is a common symptom seen in war-struck lands. Migration causes most of the families to lose their valued possessions. Refugee camps are often unsafe and riddled with crime. With nowhere to go and no source of income, families find themselves stuck in a nexus of abuse and harassment.
Currently, there are over 100 active conflict zones around the world. Some of them have turned into a hotbed for human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and organ trade. Here are some of the prime cases…
Sex Slaves In The ISIS Caliphate
The rise of ISIS has been well documented. The radical Islamic terrorist group has conquered a significant area in the states of Iraq, Syria, and Libya. When ISIS took over Northern Iraq, thousands of Yazidis were killed and thousands more were kidnapped. Among the kidnapped were thousands of young women and children, some as young as 9 years old. The victims were kept as captives, being made to work in kitchens and with animals. Most of these women were abused sexually, beaten and were kept as sex slaves. A victim who escaped the ISIS camps in 2015 revealed that there were around 2 million civilians in Mosul and round 2000 women and children being held captive as slaves.
Syrian Organs For Sale In Lebanon
Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, at least 1.5 million people have poured into Lebanon, where they make up around a quarter of the country’s population. According to a report published in June, some 70 percent of refugees in Lebanon are living below the poverty line. Trade in illegal organs is a booming business in Lebanon as desperate Syrian refugees resort to selling body parts to support themselves and their families. The poverty and turmoil have given birth to scouts and agents who find people stuck in refugee camps and street dwellers for organ transplants. The demand for kidneys has been the highest but requests for other organs aren’t uncommon. Kidneys can go for as little as $2000.
Prostitution & Trafficking In Rohingya Refugee Camps
The State Of Myanmar stripped the Rohingya community of their citizenship in 1982, leaving them stateless and on the run. The community has been a victim of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Since, August 2017, over 70,000 people have left the state of Rakhine and have moved to countries like Bangladesh and India seeking refuge. Traffickers have made refugee camps a hotbed for sourcing women to be sold to brothels and for domestic for labor work. Children as young as 12-14 are promised jobs like cooking and household cleaning and are taken away, never to be seen again. Men often specifically want girls of a certain age and pay the families about $60 for each. Victims are often smuggled across borders to red light districts of metropolitan cities.
Boko Haram in Nigeria
Since 2009, thousands of Nigerians have been displaced due to the Boko Haram insurgency. Boko Haram, a well-known radical Islamic group is infamous for the kidnap of 200 girls to be sold into slavery. The conflict-ridden state of Nigeria is a source country for women to be trafficked into West Europe. According to a UN report, over 60% of the prostitutes in Italy and Belgium are of Nigerian nationality. Most of these women agree to be trafficked under hopes of finding jobs in stores and restaurants but are forced into the sex trade.
In South Sudan, another form of human trafficking has taken birth. Children are lured from their homes with promises of making money in factories or at farms. Sometimes they are kidnapped. And sometimes, they are recruited for war. Another UN report estimated that there are 11,000 children serving in both the rebel and government armies. Most of these children have no way out, deserters are often shot in public view to discourage young soldiers from leaving. While schools try their best to ensure children stay away from armies and rebel groups, they often find themselves underfunded and unguarded.
While the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations have been working towards the rescue and rehabilitation of the victims, the results achieved are often negligible. The lack of basic governmental structure in war-struck states and little to no ground support creates a vacuum of information, which is crucial to fighting human trafficking.