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Covid-19 School Closures Make More Children Vulnerable To Trafficking, Says UN Report

Covid-19 School Closures Make More Children Vulnerable To Trafficking, Says UN Report
According to a report prepared by the United Nations, children are being targeted at an increasingly greater extent all across the world and traffickers will likely take advantage of the Coid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools because of the pandemic to abuse the young.
A report by the UN Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that a third of the trafficking victims who remain uncovered are children and this number has increased three times over the last 15 years. Girls are being exploited for sex while boys forced into work.
According to the UN Global Report on Trafficking in Persons which was based on research that was done prior to the beginning of the pandemic, in 2018, detection and reporting of about 49,000 victims were done in total which was higher compared to the number of 24,000 victims in 2016.
UNODC said that millions of people globally have been put at risk of trafficking because of the worsening poverty conditions and job losses because of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time it has also made the children out of school particularly vulnerable. According to UNECO, the UN's cultural agency, the school closures because of the pandemic have affected about 222 million schoolchildren or one in eight pupils. In April last year, the figure had reached 1.6 billion.
"It is particularly alarming that in recent years more and more children are being targeted by traffickers," UNODC executive director Ghada Waly said during a virtual briefing.
She added that the youth of the world, who are already the target of traffickers and potentially at risk as well, who have been derived of their right to education will be of particular concern as they are easy prey of human traffickers.
According to UNODC, child trafficking is more prevalent and rampant in poorer countries and there such activity is linked to use of children in child labour. The UNODC said young people are "easier to exploit" when communities are used to se3nding such children away from their homes for work. This practice is prevalent in countries of West Africa where children work away from home in gold mines and cocoa farms, the report said.
"In such settings, child trafficking victims may be hidden in plain sight," the report read. "Broad cultural acceptance of child labour can serve as a fertile ground for traffickers.”
Last month the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour was launched by the United Nations during which the global organization had said called for need of urgent action to meet a goal of ending such work practices by 2025 with more children being put at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic which threatened to upend decades of progress that has been made in this matter.
According to UN data, the number of child workers dropped to 152 million from 246 million in 2000 prior to the onset of the pandemic.
According to the United Nations, about 25 million people are victims of labour and sex trafficking worldwide according to estimates.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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