Human trafficking: Ugly truths in the supply chain

Human trafficking, and the forced labour that often comes with it, continues to present a threat to people and to supply chains around the world.

Whilst the issue of creating more sustainable supply chains is one that organisations face in any typical year, 2020 has presented unique challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic creating significant supply chain disruptions and increasing risks to business operations around the globe.

On the day of the UN’s 'World Day Against Trafficking in Persons', practice director for sustainability at BSI, Ryan Lynch, is urging organisations to focus their supply chain risk management on identifying and assessing at-risk suppliers and to proactively manage risk.

"There have been multiple instances of human trafficking in supply chains over the first half of the year, and a significant increase in the number of migrants recorded in Europe has been noted in the month of June; a trend that continued into July. Earlier this year, Turkey elected to no longer actively enforce its migration agreement with the European Union, allowing migrants to congregate along the Greece/Turkish border to enter the EU," he explains.

"European countries expressed concern that weakened economies of poorer countries will force more migrant workers to travel, which would increase risk to vulnerable people. Large numbers of migrant workers in Asia are now unemployed and may be stranded away from home due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

"Unemployed and stranded migrant workers may be at increased risk for exploitation by traffickers and may stow away in supply chain modalities to travel west for economic opportunity or travel home. In the Americas, COVID-19 deterred some migration through border closures; however, migrants in the Americas continue to travel in a northerly direction toward the US."

According to the International Labour Organisation, human trafficking is a £115bn industry. Most of this money is generated through sex trafficking, followed by forced labour, or modern slavery.

Image courtesy of the BSI

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