Efforts to counter child trafficking are needed more than ever in Ireland today. One of the reasons for this are the increased levels of homelessness and poverty throughout the country. On a global scale, the number of poor and displaced persons has increased due to conflict, war, and natural disasters. Displaced people are vulnerable and traffickers target them, especially women and children. According to Europol there is a “tremendous amount of crossover” between smugglers bringing refugees across borders and gangs ensnaring people for forced sexual and labour exploitation.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) conducted a survey of migrants which indicated that people migrating out of conflict zones and through Europe are at high risk of exploitation. Europol estimates that 10,000 registered refugee children are missing and that criminal gangs known to be involved in human trafficking are targeting children for sexual exploitation and slavery.
A figure from the European Commission indicates that 250,000 children are reported missing every year in the European Union, a figure which would account for 1 child every 2 minutes. According to Missing Children Europe, ‘runaways’ make up the majority of missing children cases in Europe and often leave home or care institutions because of abusive situations or grooming or end up becoming victims of exploitation once on the streets. In the States, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that a third of ‘runaways’ will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
Traffickers may seek to take advantage of the privacy hotels offer. MECPATHS are working to support hotel staff to be in a position to raise the alert. They can save trafficking victims from years of suffering and bring a halt to the activities of the criminals involved.
Call for Action
You can help us make a difference in the effort to combat trafficking by making your voice heard. There are some simple and practical steps you can take. We have drafted a letter that you can send to your MEPs to propose that it be made mandatory for all hotel staff within the EU to receive training in relation to trafficking.