The coronavirus is not only claiming hundreds of thousands of lives, but is also causing a global economic crisis that is expected to rival or exceed that of any recession in the past 150 years. Although decisive action and containment measures are helping flatten the curve of infection, such measures inevitably deepen and lengthen the economic recession.

Poverty, lack of social or economic opportunity and limited labour protections are the main root causes and drivers that render people vulnerable or cause them to fall victim to human trafficking. This unprecedented crisis will likely exacerbate all of those factors and result in developments (see Figure 1) that must be noted by anti-human-trafficking communities and stakeholders.


Figure 1. Impact of the coronavirus on human trafficking

As we have seen from previous economic crises and epidemics (such as SARS and Ebola), accurate, consistent and timely information is essential in order to fight not only the coronavirus but also the consequences it has on human-trafficking situations. In researching this brief, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) has spoken to its Network of Experts and Resilience Fund grantees who are directly fighting human trafficking in the field, and used inputs provided by our various anti-trafficking networks, contacts and projects, including the Alliance 8.7’s Communications, Engagement and Advocacy Group, Freedom Collaborative COVID-19 Response platform and the Human Trafficking Foundation Google group. The brief has also drawn on the initial findings of the COVID-19 Impact survey conducted by the Tech Against Trafficking initiative – a coalition of global tech companies, human-trafficking survivors, civil-society organizations and international institutions in which GI-TOC serves as the research lead.


Coronavirus-induced supply-demand dynamics

This brief aims to contribute to global anti-trafficking efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of the pandemic on human-trafficking situations and actors, not only by providing timely, comprehensive overview and transparent information, but also by suggesting holistic and multi-stakeholder responses and interventions.

Aggravating circumstances: How coronavirus impacts human trafficking

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Authors

Livia Wagner

Livia Wagner works as the Coordinator for the Network of Experts and Senior Expert at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. As Network Coordinator, she serves as the focal point for a variety of network activities of and engagement with more than 500 network members who are involved in analyzing or countering transnational organized crime.

Livia’s work covers mainly the issue of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation, specializing on responsible supply chain management. She has done extensive research on natural resource trafficking, such as illegal gold mining/illegal logging and related organized crime forms with a special focus on Latin America. She also coordinates the Responsible & Ethical Business Coalition against Trafficking (RESPECT) Initiative, and coordinating GI-TOC’s Research Lead for the Tech Against Trafficking Initiative.

Before joining the GI-TOC, she worked several years as international consultant and before that as Private Sector focal point for the United Nations Global Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons (UN.GIFT) and the Non-Governmental Organisation ECPAT on child trafficking for sexual exploitation. She also worked as development official for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Mauritius.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Development Sociology and International Relations from the University of Linz/Austria and is based in Vienna/Austria.

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Thi Hoang

Thi is an Analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. She has been part of the Global Initiative team since February 2017. She is currently working on the Responsible & Ethical Business Coalition against Trafficking (RESPECT) Initiative, which serves as a platform for thought leaders, practitioners, and policy makers and to mobilise the business community as a strategic partner to tackle human trafficking. Her other projects include the Modern Slavery Map, an interactive map for business of anti-human trafficking organisations, and the Tech Against Trafficking initiative, a coalition of technology companies and stakeholders aiming to help eradicate human trafficking using technology.

Her main areas of interest are human development – especially equity in education and healthcare, women’s empowerment; trafficking of children and women; poverty and humanitarian emergencies. Her regional interests are South Eastern Asia and Africa. She has supported the Global Poverty Project (now Global Citizen) in Wellington, New Zealand; the Austrian Red Cross, Supertramps in Vienna. She is currently a member of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)‘s Standing Group on Organised Crime (SGOC) and supporting the Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN) in her personal capacity.

Thi speaks four languages: Vietnamese (mother tongue), English (professional proficiency), Chinese – Mandarin (intermediate) and German (intermediate).

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