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Impacts of Covid-19 on human trafficking in Sudan

Research Summary analysing the impact of the pandemic on Sudan - a country in transition.

Published: 25th May 2021

This is a Research Summary of The impacts of Covid-19 on human trafficking in Sudan: A case study of transition, a research collaboration between the Rights Lab, Global Partners Governance, Royal United Services Institute, and Waging Peace.

This research investigated the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on human trafficking and modern slavery in Sudan - a country of ongoing political transition and a critical source, destination, and transit country for people experiencing or at risk of modern slavery.

The study found that the pandemic has increased individual risks and vulnerabilities to human trafficking and modern slavery in Sudan. Rather than fundamentally reshaping vulnerabilities in Sudan, the pandemic exacerbated existing individual, community, structural, and environmental risk factors, which drive human trafficking and modern slavery within, through, and from the country.

While many of the criminal networks, perpetrators, and methods employed in trafficking have remained the same, the dynamics of vulnerability and routes taken have shifted as a result of the pandemic. It has also disrupted the capacity of criminal justice, governance, and humanitarian organisations to provide services to survivors or to prosecute perpetrators. These disruptions further exacerbate the effects of the pandemic and Covid-19 mitigation strategies on vulnerable groups.

The lack of resources and institutional memory at the governmental level to tackle these issues represents a substantial challenge. However, the beacon of hope identified by interviewees was that collaborative strategies to tackle trafficking were put in place by governmental actors prior to the pandemic. Chief actors in government were identified as capable advocates and governors, willing to act on the strategic goals. The hope was that this momentum would continue post-pandemic.

Restrictions on mobility and social gathering have adversely affected income generation activities, particularly in the informal sector. Increased poverty or economic precarity has forced families to consider risky coping strategies and increased vulnerability to exploitation.

The research suggested that the pandemic most severely impacts particular groups, including women and girls, children, refugees and displaced populations, migrants and people on the move, informal workers and domestic workers.

The full report can be accessed on the Right Lab website.