Consumers drafted into fight against migrant trafficking

European consumers must learn to "buy responsibly" in order to help combat the trafficking of migrant labour exploited to make cheap goods, an international migration agency said Monday.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched an advertising campaign in support of fair trade that encourages consumers in Europe to question what lies behind the products they buy.
   
"A lot of people are trafficked to Europe and we feel very strongly that the root cause of trafficking is not poverty, it's not gender inequalities, it's not conflict," said Richard Danziger, head of IOM's Global Counter Trafficking Programme.
   
"The bottom line is demand, that we as consumers want cheap products," he told journalists.
   
The IOM believes trafficking and exploitation of illicit migrant labour is just as widespread as it was a decade ago.
   
About 12.3 million people are believed to be working in forced and exploited labour, according to the International Labour Organisation, but there are few estimates of the impact on migration.
   
Most campaigns and laws focus on the supply end of the chain, but officials argued that there was a need to tackle the demand for cheap foreign labour and services in Europe that can lead to exploitation.
   
"Some sectors of the economy, such as construction and agriculture, depend on irregular cheap labour for growth and profits," said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
   
"But economic growth shouldn't depend on exploitation," he added.
   
The stark TV advertisement depicting people trapped under an upside down shopping cart will be broadcast on European television, and backed by a website (www.buyresponsibly.org).
   
"We didn't want to do another information campaign to raise awareness, I think by now most of us in Europe know about trafficking. What we want to do is try and change people's behaviour," said Danziger.
   
The migration agency argued that store managers and even businesses were probably unaware about the conditions in which their goods were produced simply because no one asked.
   
In July, about 1,000 irregular Moroccan migrants were found working and living in squalid conditions on farms in southern Italy, where they were paid 15 to 25 euros (21 to 28 dollars) a day after being lured there, according to the IOM.
  

Source: AFP

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