When the refugee crisis began to unfold and take precedence in the media, the first thing that came to my mind was that this is a group of extremely vulnerable people to be trafficked, whether for sex or labor. According to UNHCR, an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. And nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution.
The trauma that results from war, persecution, fleeing, and the tragedies that happen along the way are leaving people wounded with deep pain and little means for help. And the instability that displacement brings often leads to desperation. These things combined make these individuals extremely vulnerable. They are simply trying to survive, but what we’re seeing instead are thousands of missing children, women who are being sold into sexual slavery, and men that are being forced into hard labor.
Those on the front lines of this crisis can only offer so many services or a certain level of care before a person is moved to the next step in the resettlement process. The need for deep care and healing is ever-present, but the transient nature of their lives makes it very difficult to receive it.
While the world has fought over whether or not to allow these individuals into their countries, it’s left them exposed with no real security or covering. As things continue to progress and the numbers continue to rise, we must find permanent solutions for these individuals. They need a wide variety of services, but more than anything, their value and dignity needs to be reinstated. They need people who are committed to their healing and will walk with them as they recount the traumas and horrors they’ve faced. If a permanent placement is not found, they will continue to be an easy target for exploitation. With human trafficking being the fastest growing crime in the world, we cannot afford to make it easy for these criminal syndicates to source human beings. We must fight to protect the innocent lives of millions - who have already faced great adversity - from becoming another life swept away in the name of exploitation for commercial gain.