Numerous Venezuelans in Central America and Caribbean at Risk of Trafficking, Exploitation and Discrimination, Shows IOM Analysis

Posted: 
07/16/19
Themes: 
Counter-Trafficking, Labour Migration

San Jose – One of every five Venezuelan nationals recently arrived in countries in Central America and the Caribbean has faced a high risk of labour exploitation or trafficking for forced labour, according to a recent International Organization for Migration (IOM) survey, applied to 4,600 respondents in five countries.  

Twenty per cent responded positively to survey indicators of labour exploitation, and male respondents showed higher vulnerability.   

They reported being victims of exploitative practices like working without payment, being forced to work, working to pay a debt, and even being held against their will. 

Between July and December 2018, IOM conducted a series of surveys, using its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) operations, in Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Guyana, to enhance the quality of data on this population and their needs.   

The analysis of the data shows there is an association between the risk of labour exploitation and those working in the informal sector: over half of the interviewed said that they work in the informal economy, increasing the risk of becoming a victim of abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.  

The analysis also shows high risk of discrimination based on nationality. Approximately one-third of respondents said that they had experienced discrimination since leaving. 

“Many Venezuelans who come to Central America and the Caribbean support themselves by working in the informal economy, which exposes them to possible exploitation,” said Rosilyne Borland, IOM Senior Migration Protection and Assistance Specialist for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. 

“Our findings show the presence of risks of human trafficking for labour exploitation, and make it clear we must continue to work to increase the capacity of governments, UN agencies and NGOs to respond. Sexual exploitation of Venezuelans in the region is also a serious problem, and it should be part of our efforts, but we must not forget other forms of exploitation,” she emphasized.  

Since the mid-1990s, IOM and its partners have provided protection and assistance to close to 100,000 men, women and children who were trafficked for sexual or labour exploitation, slavery or practices like slavery, servitude or for organ removal.  

IOM will continue to support the efforts of States and civil society to address the most urgent needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in the region. IOM approaches to counter trafficking in persons and exploitation include actions to reduce risk, such as to regularize migrants, improve their living and working conditions, as well as targeted support to protect and assist victims.    

The data collection and analysis of this study were carried out thanks to the contribution of the US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). Other activities related to the response plan for refugees and migrants from Venezuela were financially supported by the the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).

Access full report here

For more information please contact Rosilyne Borland at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 22125300. Email rborland@iom.int, or Eliza Galos, at IOM Headquarters: egalos@iom.int 

  • Over 4,000 people were surveyed in the context of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), the analysis shows reported needs and gaps in assistance. 

  • Over 4,000 people were surveyed in the context of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), the analysis shows reported needs and gaps in assistance.