The UK has established two new funds designed to fight modern slavery and human trafficking at home and overseas.
On a visit to the Vatican yesterday, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd committed £11 million (€12.24 million) to one fund dedicated to fighting the crime in countries where victims are trafficked into the UK from, and an additional £3 million that will be made available to organisations that help vulnerable children overseas and in Britain.
“Modern slavery is a global crime which demands an international response,” Rudd said during a speech at the Santa Marta Conference.
“Only by working together can we win the fight against this barbaric crime, which destroys the lives of the most vulnerable.
“Britain has taken world-leading action to tackle modern slavery. We are determined to work with other governments around the world to eradicate slavery and send a message that it will not be tolerated.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to tackle the scourge of modern slavery, these funds – totalling £14 million – will help develop innovative approaches to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”
The funds were unveiled just weeks after Rudd reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to tacking modern slavery with an £8.5 million investment in the law enforcement agencies that tackle the crime. That money was earmarked to be spent on funding new intelligence workers to improve the country’s ability to respond to the threat posed by human traffickers.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are nearly 46 million victims of modern slavery around the world, while the Home Office says there are as many as 13,000 in the UK. Modern slavery describes people who are forced to work for either low of no pay, and often live in appalling conditions.
Globally, North Korea is home to the highest number of modern-day slaves in the world, with 4.37% of its population victim to forced labour. Worldwide, around 4% of the population is subject to some form of modern slavery.
Of the 13,000 modern-day slaves officials suspect are currently in the UK, the largest group comes from Albania, followed by Nigeria and Vietnam – countries the new funds are likely to target. Aside from foreign workers, British modern slaves working in the UK are typically young women who are forced into sex work.
The UK is leading the world in the fight against forced labour and human trafficking. A little over a year ago, Britain passed the Modern Slavery Act, which introduced a range of harsh new penalties – including life imprisonment – for traffickers, and compels large businesses to report annually on evidence of modern slavery in their supply chains.