UN: Migrants report abuse on western Mediterranean route

ANKARA

Nearly half of the irregular migrants arriving in Spain through the western Mediterranean route had at least one experience related to human trafficking, exploitation or abuse, the UN Migration Office said in its latest report. 

The abuses include; being held against one’s will, being approached by someone with offers of an arranged marriage, having worked without getting the expected payment, having experienced physical violence, being forced to work, offers of cash in exchange for blood, organs or body parts and threatened with sexual violence.

“The survey includes a module aiming at measuring the vulnerability to human trafficking, exploitative practices and abuse during the journey of respondents or of other migrants traveling with them,” International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in the report, published on Tuesday. 

The survey was conducted from July to October 2018 and based on 1,341 interviews with migrants and refugees from 39 countries who arrived in Spain.

Of them 89 percent were male and 11 percent were female, with 35 percent younger than 20 years of age and 19 percent between 21 and 23.

Nearly half of the participants, 48 percent, reported that they were subjected to at least one type of abuse while traveling.

Male participants reported on a higher percentage of exploitation and abuse (49 percent) compared to female participants (40 percent).

The report also shows that migrants from Cameroon, the Gambia and Guinea reported the highest share of direct experience of human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Migrants from Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania had the lowest share.

“The results of this survey show an alarming incidence of reported exploitation and abuse of migrants and refugees along the route. It is striking how varied their motivations and experiences are, and we do not always realize the very high levels of vulnerability in play,” said Maria Jesus Herrera, IOM chief of mission in Spain.

The main motivation for migrants leaving their country of origin were economic reasons, personal violence, war and conflict.

“The findings reinforce our view that much more can be done to provide specialized assistance, protection and care all along the route,” said Herrera.

“Ultimately, much of the abuse and suffering could be avoided by strengthening safe channels for regular migration.”  

The western Mediterranean route merged as the most frequented route to Europe in 2018 with 63,325 arrivals to Spain, making 60 percent of all Mediterranean arrivals of this type, IOM said in late February.  

Some 30,510 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while making the treacherous journey to Europe, the UN agency also reported early January.  

From the beginning of 2019, 5,203 migrants and refugees have arrived in Spain through the same route; 73 people lost their lives during the journey.

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