Friday, June 20, 2008

World Refugee Day

"A total of 11.4 million refugees were under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2007, including some 400,000 feeling conflict in their home countries, the agency said. The report for 2006 numbered 9.9 million." -NY Times

An excerpt from a message by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres to mark World Refugee Day, 2008:

"Today, the world is different and refugee protection is vastly more challenging. Old barriers to human mobility have fallen and new patterns of movement have emerged, including forms of forced displacement that were not envisaged by the '51 UN Refugee Convention.

Conflict today may be motivated by politics, but looking deeper it can also be about poverty, bad governance, climate change leading to competition for scarce resources. Recent food and fuel shortages have had an immediate and dramatic effect on the poor and the dispossessed, including refugees and the internally displaced. Extreme price increases have generated instability and conflict in many places, with the very real potential of triggering more displacement..."

The links between refugees and human trafficking:

From"International protection for trafficked persons and those who fear being trafficked"

Can a trafficked person be a refugee?
Trafficked persons and those who fear being trafficked can be defined as refugees under the 1951 Convention if they meet all the elements defined in Article 1(A). If they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the Convention grounds and their country of origin is unable or unwilling to provide protection against further re-trafficking or reprisals bytraffickers, they are entitled to international refugee protection. There is no reason why a victim of trafficking who fears returning home due to the real possibility of being re-trafficked, targeted for reprisals, or threatened with death, should not be granted refugee status where the state of origin is unable or unwilling to protect that person against such harm...

Can refugees be trafficked?
It is also important to note that refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing from persecution could be easy targets for traffickers. This is because the displacement and related vulnerability put refugees and internally displaced persons at a greater risk of exploitation and abuse. To access countries of asylum in an environment of tightening visa regimes and border controls, some refugees may resort to desperate and even illegal measures in their search for a safecountry and of livelihoods and can fall prey to trafficking. Asylum applicants may fear re-trafficking and reprisals from traffickers upon returning to their country.

Does being re-trafficked or a target of reprisals amount to persecution?
According to the UNHCR Trafficking Guidelines, re-trafficking usually amounts to persecution, in view of the serious violations often involved. Reprisals would also amount to persecution as they usually involve acts of serious human rights violations. Among the cases reviewed, both the risks of re-trafficking and reprisals were considered by the courts of Australia, Canada, and the U.S., as found in the cases illustrated below. In the U.K., it is more difficult to convince the court that the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution from being re-trafficked or a target of reprisals, which will be discussed later in the section...

A stateless person is vulnerable to trafficking for the lack of state protection. The UNHCR Trafficking Guidelines specify that while being stateless alone does not make an individual a refugee, the stateless person would be considered a refugee if unable to return to his or her habitual residence for fear of persecution on a Convention ground. The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness set out the legal framework for the rights of a stateless person and obligations of states to avoid actions that would result in statelessness...

As effects of globalization continue to expand, the nature of trafficking becomes more complex. To protect those targeted by trafficking, asylum is an essential measure and may be the only option available in countries where there is no other means ofprotection. The importance of making the asylum procedures available to these persons cannot be over-emphasized. The adoption of the UNHCR Trafficking Guidelines would therefore be essential in the provision of international protection for trafficked persons and those who fear being trafficked. As states have the primary responsibility to prevent trafficking in person and protect those affected by this serious human rights violation, the challenge is on the decision-makers of each state to ensure trafficked persons' full access to fair and efficient asylum procedures.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:48 AM

    What do you know about a foreign exchange sponsor of Moldovans to Iowa City, Iowa?

    By chance tonight, I met two young men who arrived in Iowa City, Iowa (where I live), from Moldova (eastern Europe) while waiting in line behind them at the grocery store. I learned they were working third shift at a factory, living in the worst apartment complex in town, paying $1000 for a 2 bdrm apt. in this complex (I highly suspect they are being overcharged.), know little English, and don't understand the monetary system at all. I didn't catch the name of the outfit who they named as their sponsor (Something about Education Resource Network?), but I am concerned they are being taken advantage of, possibly on many levels. They are here for the summer. Do you have any knowledge of this "program" or know whom I could contact to find out more? Please contact me at Thanks!