The UN special rapporteur on trafficking, Siobhán Mullally, told the UN General Assembly that the second wave of COVID-19 had increased exploitation risks for women, children, migrants, and other vulnerable people.
The second wave of COVID-19 that is now hitting many countries has increased the risk of exploitation for women, children, migrants and other vulnerable people.
"The risks of exploitation in the current economic climate are great," Siobhán Mullally, UN special rapporteur on trafficking, said as she presented her annual report on October 28 at the UN General Assembly in New York, according to a press release.
'Human traffickers are adapting rapidly'
"Women have been hard hit by the collapse of informal economies, and with so many schools closed, children are increasingly at risk of online sexual exploitation and the worst forms of child labour," she said.
The UN press released noted that, ''around the world, many migrant workers remain stranded with no way home and no social benefits where they are. Low-income workers have been hit by rising unemployment.''
"Human traffickers are adapting quickly, especially to online exploitation, but governments and civil society are struggling to provide effective protection to victims of trafficking," Mullally said.
The fight against trafficking and efforts to identify and assist victims have also been hard hit as government use their resources elsewhere during the pandemic.
"Discrimination, poverty and limited enforcement of workers' rights all increase the risks of exploitation,'' she added.
'Profound changes to migration policies needed'
The UN expert noted that the COVID-19 pandemic ''further highlights the limits of anti-trafficking responses that are built on the Trafficking in Persons Protocol adopted 20 years ago."
"A new model of identification and early support and assistance is needed, one that recognises that vulnerability is shaped by discrimination and by the inability of a person to gain access to social protection and effective remedies," she said.
"We need profound changes to migration policies and a radical refocus of international human rights law and practice," said Mullally.
"The human rights of trafficked persons and States' obligations to prevent exploitation and to combat discrimination must be to the fore."