Knowing about the risks of human trafficking is not stopping an estimated 3 to 5 million people from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam from migrating for work in richer neighbouring countries a new research study has found.
The lure of earning enough money to send back to their families often overrides known risks or actual previous experiences of exploitation, dangerous working conditions or excessive hours, revealed the World Vision research being launched days before International Migration Day on 18 December.
“This is the first time we can confirm, with empirical evidence, that prevention work relying on raising awareness is not enough. Young people will continue to migrate. It’s time trafficking prevention agencies shift the focus of prevention work to safe migration,” said John Whan Yoon, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons Regional Programme Manager.
“Raising awareness on the risks of migration needs to focus on changing risky behaviour to protective behaviours, such as travelling with formal documents and keeping in regular contact with family members,” Whan Yoon added.
The Vulnerability Report: Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, a first of its kind regional study supported by a leading UK research university, draws on responses from close to 10,000 children, young people and adults in communities across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report further found that young people who knew how to protect themselves were more likely to have a job with good working conditions and earn enough money to send home.
“We are not advocating for young people to move beyond their borders for work. However, we are seeking to empower youth with protective behaviours that could keep them safe in case they decide to work in another country,” Whan Yoon said.
Across Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China and Myanmar, World Vision works with young people children and youth clubs where they learn about safe migration and how to protect themselves from the risks of exploitation and from being trafficked.