REFUGEE WEEK- People seeking asylum are vulnerable to trafficking

There are many reasons why people feel forced to leave their homes and lives behind, some are fleeing conflict, others poverty or persecution, but one thing they all have in common is the desire for a life of safety and freedom.

People travelling across the world in search of security are deeply vulnerable, and are often poor or desperate. This leads many thousands of people to fall into the clutches of traffickers and become victims of forced labour, sexual exploitation or other forms of modern slavery and human rights abuses.

City Hearts have supported thousands of people over the years, including many who arrived in the UK seeking asylum. Some were exploited along the way and came to the UK seeking refuge, while others arrived in the UK only to find themselves exploited here.

Vivi is currently being cared for in one of our safe houses. She was persuaded to leave her home in Somalia, one of the poorest places in the world, by human traffickers who promised her a better life.

She says she was taken ‘with a group of other Somalis and Arabs’ to a place that took three days to travel to by boat. Once there she was forced into prostitution and beaten if she did not comply. Luckily she managed to escape, and travelled to Germany, where she lived in a shipping container in a refugee camp for three years. She eventually managed to claim asylum in England.

“It was so horrible,” said Vivi. “I don’t like to think about what happened to me in Germany either.

“City Hearts is great because I have my case worker, and any issue I have, I call her and she helps me. I have guaranteed support and that is so good.

“But I am not at peace at the moment as I am missing the most important people in my life. Yes there is some help, but not everything can be solved.”

Vivi hopes to stay in the UK and make a life for herself, but she is worried that other refugees and asylum seekers are also being targeted by traffickers like she was.

“My advice to them is to be careful and try to not go into a trap or anything,” she said.

“I am fortunate that I have had no problems in the UK myself. Now I do have some hope for the future. I want to stay here and forget all that’s happened in the past and not return to Germany or Somalia.

“All I wish for is a place of my own and freedom, that is all.”