Human Trafficking amid a Pandemic: Confronting the Exploitation of Fleeing Venezuelans

This event was hosted by Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) on June 30, 2020.

As Venezuela’s political and economic crisis deepens, the risks facing Venezuelans who are fleeing the country are getting significantly worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to a lack of regular status in their host countries, the exploitation of Venezuelan women, girls, and children in the form of human trafficking, sex trafficking, and forced labor has intensified as criminal groups have taken advantage of COVID-19. The pandemic has led to border closures that have incentivized illegal border crossings through informal checkpoints that are often controlled by criminal groups. Without regular legal status in host countries, fleeing Venezuelans have limited access to formal employment and resources, exposing them to exploitative work in the informal economy. Without formal protection from deportation or persecution, victims are also less likely to report cases of exploitation to national authorities.

In this webinar, experts will discuss the dangers of human trafficking and exploitation for Venezuelan migrants, the impact of public policy on these activities, and the ways in which these threats have been aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic. What are the general trends in human trafficking of Venezuelans? How do migration policies and COVID-related policies affect trafficking? What measures are in place to protect migrants from exploitative activities?