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17 Feb 2016

Dr Cathy Zimmerman, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine & Freedom Fund

New report: "Safer labour migration and community-based prevention of exploitation: The state of the evidence for programming"

Over the past decade, as ‘human trafficking’, ‘modern slavery’ and ‘forced labour’ have gained greater international attention and investment, the dialogue has increasingly turned to prevention, aiming to avert exploitation by fostering safer migration. In a world of structural factors that create hurdles and risks for migrant workers, community-based programming now often includes terms such as ‘safe’ or ‘high risk’ migration and aims to help aspiring migrants avoid exploitation. But, to date, it remains unclear what, in practice, makes individual migrants more or less safe, which risk factors lead to adverse migration outcomes and what actions people can take to prevent being exploited. As community-based programming to help migrants avoid situations of labour exploitation continues to grow, it has become increasingly urgent that we ask ourselves how reliably we can answer the following questions:

1. What is ‘high risk migration’ or ‘safer labour migration’?

2. What puts people at risk of or protects them from exploitation, human trafficking, modern slavery or forced labour?

3. Are there decisions and actions that individuals could take to reduce their risk of harm in different contexts of multiple migration hazards and employment disadvantages?

4. Which of the migration-related factors are most significant or influential in determining a labour migrant’s migration outcome?

5. In what ways can and do people use the information they receive (e.g., from awareness campaigns, training) to improve their migration outcomes? How much and how does the information offered about migration translate into protective behaviours?