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Online conference “Human Trafficking in Times of Corona” held

This year, a conference on the occasion of October 18, the European Anti-Trafficking Day, organized by the Austrian Task Force on Combating Human Trafficking, and in cooperation with the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was held is online on October 14 and 15.

The conference “Human Trafficking in Times of Corona” addresses the impact of the COVID-19 virus pandemic on the work conditions in various fields worldwide and the consequences that the crisis has on workers. A special focus has been given to the position of agricultural workers, seasonal workers in the tourism industry, and caregivers.

The conference was organized to determine the consequences of complete ‘lockdown’ and the following events and explain taken measures in the fighting human trafficking. “Human Trafficking in Times of Corona“ also refers to the economic pressure caused by the global pandemic, which impacts increasing the risk of labor exploitation.

Na konferenciji je učestvovala i predstavnica ASTRE Jasmina Krunić, koja je bila jedna od troje panelista na radionici pod nazivom „Korona kriza i podrška žrtvama: Uticaj na žrtve trgovine ljudima i povećan rizik od eksploatacije“, za koju je bilo prijavljeno skoro 150 učesnika. Pored Jasmine na ovoj radionici su govorili i Manfred Buhner, direktor MEN VIA, organizacije koja pomaže muškarcima žrtvama trgovine ljudima i Eva Kaufman, direktorka LEFO-ovog Interventnog centra za žene žrtve trgovine ljudima.

ASTRA representative Jasmina Krunić also attended the conference. She was one of three panelists at the workshop entitled “Corona Crisis and Victim Support: The Impact on Trafficked Persons and Heightened Risks of Exploitation.”  Almost 150 participants attended this event. Besides, Manfred Buhner, director of MEN VIA, an organization that helps men victims of trafficking, and Eva Kaufmann, member of LEFÖ – Intervention Center for Trafficked Women (IBF), also spoke at the workshop.

During the workshop, the representative of ASTRA spoke about the recent case of THB for the purpose of labor exploitation. SOS Victim Support Team assisted two workers exploited on a farm in Serbia for years. This case is a direct consequence of the worsening of the already bad economic conditions, which are a consequence of the global crisis and the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. For vulnerable groups, including these workers, this period brought an additional risk of labor exploitation.

At the next thematic unit, the speakers referred to the challenges they face in their work, i.e. the process of assisting victims. Jasmina underlines “the feeling of panic, despair, the absence of any options for victims on the one hand, and many more calls, field trips, and emergency interventions, on the other hand, marked these six months.”

In the last segment of this workshop, presenters exchanged opinions on the functioning of anti-trafficking NGOs during a state of emergency. It was concluded that the organizations faced numerous obstacles and challenges in this period. Jasmina additionally emphasized that ASTRA had 100% more calls and field actions since the beginning of the Corona pandemic.

“We have moved our boundaries and limitations way further. We had to invent new ways to help victims effectively. We were available on ASTRA SOS line 24/7, and until curfew, we were on filed actions”, Jasmina said. She also explained that she and her colleagues had to make an additional effort to balance all this with other activities, especially during the period of work from home.

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