Refugees and their economic exploitation

Labour exploitation, child marriage, and unprepared authorities. That’s what happens when refugees are excluded from any form of human rights and from the human beings status. All this is documented in a Caritas report on trafficking of human beings analysing ten countries in the Euro-Mediterranean area.


In Albania and Lebanon the authorities in charge of migrants reception are not trained for a first screening of the situations at risk and the identification of vulnerable people.

That’s why Caritas organised trainings for representatives of the authorities and police men who are in contact with migrants. In Turkey, missing recent data about the dramatic situation of human rights after the failed coup and the Erdogan’s purges, the report focuses on child marriage and child labour. In Armenia, on the labour exploitation. In general the quasi-impossibility for refugees to have access to the labour market gives way to different conditions of economic exploitation (e.g., sexual exploitation, drugs trafficking) and promotes crime.

Refugees exploitation, organs trafficking, child marriage

In North Lebanon, refugees’ families are often forced to send their children to work in fields for the owner of the camp where they live. And many children are excluded from the education system: during the 2014-2015 the Lebanese minister of education said that schools could only accept 75 thousand of children while UNHCR counts at least around 425 thousand of migrant children living in the country.

Furthermore, the report by Caritas sheds light on the connection between migrants smugglers and the trafficking of human beings: those who cannot afford to pay the smuggler to let them cross borders are forced to sell their daughters for combined marriages or to commit crimes for third persons. This has been frequently reported to happen in Europe. The phenomenon of Syrian refugees children marriage is widespread in Turkey and Lebanon in exchange of money and protection for their family. Children and young women marriages can also be temporary, sometimes for just 24 hours. The husband can decide to repudiate his wife who can be accepted again from her family or rejected because she has been repudiated by her husband, and tragically this leads easily to prostitution.

Furthermore, there is also the case of Syrian men who send their wives to Lebanon with the promise of a better and decent life, while once they arrive in the country they are forced by Syrian and Lebanese men to work in bars or as prostitutes, they become their slaves.

A dramatic issue emerging from the report is the growth of organ trafficking.  Refugees women often tell about migrants in hospital who were undergoing surgeries and were deprived of some of their organs (e.g., kidneys), without knowing nothing about.

Others tell volunteers that they have been forced to donate their organs during their way to Lebanon, a trafficking that seems to pre-exist the conflict but that the conflict intensified. Indeed, the organs trafficking is dramatically growing and the 2014 UNHCR report documents a large number of victims of humans trafficking among Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

In the grip of terrorists groups

According to the information collected in Lebanon from women refugees, young boys have been often kidnapped and forced to be part of the militia of terroristic groups , especially in Iraq, Syria and Libya. While girls are often forced to marry fighters. In 2015, girls represented 35% of the fighters recruited from France, according to the French Intelligence Internal Security Service.

At least 60 thousand of teenagers and young people are estimated to being recruited as fighters in Iraq, Syria and Libya and half of them, more or less, have foreign origins. In Syria and Iraq fighters come from about 86 different countries, mostly from Middle East, Maghreb and Western Europe (especially from UK, France, Belgium and Germany). 


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