Homelessness to Hardship: How Mass Displacement Encourages Human Trafficking

We’ve seen the trauma that is associated with natural disasters and economic tragedies, but have we considered how this is also connected to human trafficking? For Human Trafficking Prevention Month, take the one question quiz HERE and see if you know the difference between human smuggling and human trafficking.

Human trafficking requires three elements in order for it to be successfully achieved:

  1. The transport of a person
  2. The force or coercion of the victim, and
  3. The abuse and exploitation

Mass displacement incentivizes human trafficking to traffickers because they are aware that a person who has been displaced is in need of a place to call home. Mass displacement is often found in places that experience natural disasters that require a large group of people to move from one area that provides shelter and a way of life to another area to rebuild a new life. 

While you may be thinking this is so farfetched and only happens in third world countries, you would be surprised how mass displacement and human trafficking can happen in your own community. Keep reading to learn how one state was affected by this vulnerability.

From August 23rd to 31st, 2005, there was an unthinkable hurricane to touch the grounds of New Orleans. Meteorologists called this storm, Hurricane Katrina. The flood affected approximately 80% of the city and was the demise of over 980 residents. But what happened to those who survived but no longer had a place to call home? 

Many of the residents returned home within days to rebuild. Unfortunately, over 600,000 households were displaced. The shelters were filled to capacity, housing over 273,000 people and the FEMA trailers housed at least 114,000 families. 

The correlation to Hurricane Katrina’s mass displacement and human trafficking was found in the survivors of the labor and human trafficking reported numbers, which was projected to be about 3,750. We are sure that number is only the tip of the iceberg as many victims have still gone unidentified. 

Mass displacement is not just something happening overseas. Think about mass displacement as something that occurs due to unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances. The problem with mass displacement is that there is no one to blame for why the disaster or traumatic situation occurred. But there is a way to help. By spreading awareness, volunteering, and donating, you are being a direct conduit of change in the way our resources are utilized to prevent homelessness and aid in mass displacement. 

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Ashley Ingram