One day, a man showed up at the village, asking my parents, in exchange of money, to look after me and take me to Dar es Salaam, where I could study. I never saw a school there: I was forced to work hard all day in different houses. They beat me constantly, I had almost nothing to eat”. This is the story of Aurelia, an 18-year-old girl from Tanzania, a story shared by 40 million people worldwide, victims of human trafficking, recruited by force or false promises for the purpose of exploitation, which includes sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

The world’s most vulnerable, particularly women and children are the main victims of human trafficking, a rising phenomenon globally. Of all victims, 70% are women and 12 million are boys and girls. Women and girls are mainly exploited sexually, whereas boys and men are trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation.

Preventing and combating human trafficking is even more important today, especially in contexts where the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing economic and social fragility, exposing the weakest to dangerous opportunities where they can experience violence and violations of their rights," says Marco Chiesara, President of WeWorld. "We work to tackle human trafficking in many of the countries where we intervene and we are on the side of the victims. We call on institutions to promote a culture of human rights that allows victims to be protected and not criminalized, protect migrants through accessible and regulated channels, and recognize that any form of fraud, deception, abuse of power and position of vulnerability that leads to forced labor and sexual exploitation of girls and boys, women and men is a crime that must be condemned without hesitation."

For this reason, to mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons on Thursday, 30th July, we have launched “Cambodia – between slavery and hopes”, a video featuring the touching stories of human trafficking victims that we gathered in Cambodia, one of the countries where we have been working to tackle human trafficking since 2013.

Our intervention, made possible also thanks to the EU Aid Volunteers - an initiative of the European Union that offers the opportunity to European citizens to work as volunteers in non-European countries hit by a humanitarian crisis - has prevented the trafficking of more than 1.2 million poor Cambodian migrants who, every year, rely on illegal agencies to go to Thailand with the promise of a job.