By Colleen O’Day
Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster ever to hit Puerto Rico, wipes out the island’s power grid. A heat wave nicknamed Lucifer scorches southern Europe. Hurricane Harvey, the second-costliest Atlantic tropical cyclone in history, submerges Texas and Louisiana under trillions of gallons of rain. Drought again grips East Africa, leaving millions of people short of food and water.
Natural disasters have always been a part of the weather cycle. But with climate change, the cycles of floods and droughts are expected to grow both more frequent and more severe.
That may well drive more children around the globe into the hands of human traffickers.
Poverty and natural disasters are a recipe for desperation. In 2015, Nepal, where 1 in 5 children under 18 are laborers – one of the highest rates in the world – was rocked by a pair of earthquakes that left some 3 million people homeless. World Vision, GoodWeave, and other nonprofit organizations working on the ground in Nepal found signs that the calamity had led to dramatic increases in child labor and child trafficking.
Global criminal rings exploit any disruption to people’s lives to lure victims into bonded labor, fraudulent adoptions, coerced commercial sex, or outright slavery. Extreme weather exacts the greatest suffering on the world’s poorest people. And children are the most vulnerable of all.
Annalisa Enrile, a professor with the online Doctor of Social Work program at the University of Southern California, sees climate change and human trafficking linked in surprising ways.… Read the rest