A report out today by The Salvation Army reveals a five-fold rise in the number of modern slavery victims it has supported in as many years. The church and charity, which has run the Government’s contract to support adult victims of human trafficking and modern slavery in England and Wales since 2011, saw the total number of victims in its care rise from 378 in Year One of the contract to a total of 2,013 in Year Five.
For the first time, The Salvation Army has seen more victims coming from countries where conflict is prevalent. The organisation records the top nationalities of people who enter its care, and war-torn Eritrea and Sudan now feature seventh and tenth respectively. More than twice as many victims come from Albania than anywhere else in the world, followed by Nigeria; the majority of these are women often forced into the sex trade.
Anne Read, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery at The Salvation Army said: “I’m saddened but not surprised to see increased numbers of victims from war-torn countries being trafficked into slavery. I have seen the Jungle Camp at Calais first-hand and witnessed the plight of individuals from places like Sudan and Eritrea - they will have escaped the horrors of conflict in their own countries looking for hope in another. They are often so vulnerable and desperate that they make for easy prey for traffickers.”
The Salvation Army has also seen victims fall into increasingly diverse industries. Within the last year, it was revealed that one victim had been trafficked for organ removal – something the organisation has not seen since the first year of the care contract.
Anne Read added: “Modern slavery tends to be hidden in plain sight and we are continuing to see there is no limit to the imagination of a trafficker when it comes to people being bought and sold for their own gain. Today people are being forced to work in slave like conditions not only in the sex industry but as domestic slaves, often in apparently respectable homes and streets, also in factories, fields, shops, restaurants, car washes and nail bars. The public can come into direct contact with modern slaves, without even realising it.
“The people we support have been tricked, lied to, trapped, threatened, traded and abused. Frequently they arrive at a safe house with no belongings or documents, untreated health problems and injuries, often as a direct result of being trafficked, and are often extremely traumatised.”
The Salvation Army is calling on the public and businesses to increase their awareness for the crime of modern slavery through #askthequestion initiative, launched in conjunction with Anti-Slavery Day (18 October), which gives people the tools to ask businesses or services they use, “is this slave free?”, using both hashtags #askthequestion and #slavefree.
The Salvation Army sees the impact on the lives of victims of modern slavery through its work to support them as they begin to recover from their horrific ordeals. Its annual report shows there has been continued exponential growth in referrals of victims of modern slavery. More than 4,300 people have been supported by the service which works to help people to integrate safely into society here in the UK or in their home country. In safe houses and through outreach support across the country, The Salvation Army and its partners help people get medical, legal, emotional and any other help they need.
For more information on The Salvation Army’s work to care for victims of modern slavery, visit the website: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/human-trafficking