Collective action

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The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies around the world, leaving many nations grappling with rising unemployment and worsening economic conditions. Unfortunately, Pakistan is no exception to this crisis. The country’s struggles with high unemployment rates and a deteriorating economy have created a fertile breeding ground for human trafficking. The recent devastating shipwreck off the coast of Greece, in which more than 290 Pakistanis are feared dead, serves as a grim reminder of the urgent need to address this interconnected crisis.
The fishing boat was carrying up to 750 people when it capsized 50 nautical miles off Pylos in southern Greece, according to foreign media. According to data obtained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), hundreds of individuals including men, women, children and transgender persons have all fallen victims to human trafficking in the past three years. Furthermore, the data show an upward trend – meaning that the illegal transport of Pakistanis across transnational borders to exploit them for profit has increased.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, in a press statement, has said that the Pakistan Mission in Greece under the leadership of Ambassador Aamar Aftab remained in contact with the local authorities for identification and recovery of Pakistani nationals among the deceased and providing relief to the survivors. Victims of trafficking are often exposed to harsh and extreme physical conditions, including excessive work, work without proper protection and equipment or the use of force by their traffickers.
In addition, victims may be exposed to health risks, such as HIV/AIDS, infections, and substance abuse. They often experience serious mental health risks due to being trafficked that result in anxiety, insecurity, fear, and trauma. Several studies indicate high levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in survivors. Trafficking can also lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression, and even suicide.
Pakistan has been grappling with a growing unemployment crisis for several years. The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, resulting in massive job losses across various sectors of the economy. As businesses shuttered and industries crumbled, countless individuals found themselves without a means to support their families and secure a stable livelihood. Desperation often leads people to seek alternative paths, and human traffickers exploit this vulnerability, offering false promises of employment abroad.
The confluence of rising unemployment and economic distress has created a perfect storm for traffickers to exploit individuals seeking better opportunities. They lure their victims with false promises of well-paying jobs and a chance at a brighter future, only to subject them to unimaginable horrors such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, and slavery.
The recent shipwreck off the coast of Greece is a tragic consequence of the desperate situation many find themselves in. These victims, driven by a quest for better opportunities, embarked on a perilous journey in the hopes of finding stability abroad. However, they fell prey to human traffickers who callously disregarded their lives and safety.
The intertwined crises of growing unemployment, worsening economic conditions and human trafficking demand urgent attention and collective action. The recent shipwreck tragedy, claiming the lives of many Pakistanis, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of inaction. By addressing the root causes, strengthening law enforcement, raising awareness, providing support to survivors, and fostering international cooperation, we can begin to dismantle the networks of human traffickers and safeguard the vulnerable. Only then can we truly combat this grave violation of human rights and ensure a safer future for all.