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The impact of COVID - 19 on refugees and migrants from Venezuela vulnerable to human trafficking and smuggling: key messages to government authorities and law enforcement agencies

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Key messages to government authorities and law enforcement agencies

Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants are crimes with serious human rights implications that are accentuated in crisis times. With the outbreak of COVID-19, women and men refugees and migrants from Venezuela may face specific vulnerabilities to those crimes due to the circumstances of their journey and their poor living and working conditions. Unprecedented travel and mobility restrictions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have multifaceted impacts which, in combination, foster an environment where refugees and migrants, particularly those in irregular situations, could be abused and exploited, along with challenges to identify, protect and prosecute.

As a result of the outbreak, refugees and migrants previously less at risk of trafficking may become victims, while vulnerabilities of persons already at risk of trafficking may be further exacerbated, for example, for women and girls who disproportionality have fallen victims to this crime.

The human trafficking and smuggling of migrants’ subsector calls for attention to the challenging situation of refugees and migrants from Venezuela vulnerable to trafficking and smuggling. This document provides the impact of COVID-19 on Venezuelan refugees and migrants, increased risk factors for human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and key messages for government authorities and law enforcement agencies. This document can also be used by practitioners to adapt ongoing counter-trafficking efforts - in prevention and/or provision of assistance - in the context of COVID-19, to elaborate messages for targeted community groups, or as guidance for advocacy to engage with authorities and law enforcement agencies.