The impact of COVID-19 on the protection of rights of trafficked and exploited persons

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) crisis is affecting almost every country in the world today. Most European States have already taken restrictive measures to prevent the wide spreading of COVID-19 and mitigate the health risks for the population. While these measures affect everybody, the new economic and social circumstances have a particularly negative impact on marginalized communities, including thousands of migrants that work in Europe in low paid and exploitative jobs, supporting European countries to plug their labor shortfalls.

In this context, the international NGO platform against trafficking in human beings, La Strada International, calls upon the EU member states and national governments.

Among the most difficult challenges faced by these groups of people, La Strada International identifies the lack of safety due to the sudden loss of income, the limitation of access to health care services, counseling and shelters. And the general state of uncertainty that thousands of migrant workers now go through is augmented by the lack of sufficient information regarding their rights as employees, the financial compensations due to them, etc.

To stop the harmful impact of COVID-19 on the protection of rights of trafficked persons and/or victims of various forms of exploitation, La Strada International calls the governments of EU member countriesto follow a human rights based approach in combating the pandemic and comes with a series of concrete recommendations in this regard, including:

  • Build more European solidarity and strengthen a cooperative approach between EU member states in assisting those in need.
  • Recognize the contribution of migrant workers to support European economies and fill labor shortages.
  • Provide essential goods and services to the most vulnerable groups, including to those with irregular residence or in irregular work, and ensure that personal data gathered through service provision will not be shared or used for immigration enforcement purposes.
  • Define income support measures also for all those that have no access to the established social welfare programs.
  • Enable NGOs to continue to provide legal aid, assistance and emergency support services to vulnerable groups by the provision of financial support.

The full statement of La Strada International to the EU member states can be accessed here

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