Forced labour highest in Arab states, followed by Europe, says UN report

Nearly 50 million people – on any given day – are in a situation of modern slavery globally, as per the 2021 Global Estimates, the International Labour Organization has said in its latest report. These people have either been forced to work against their will or are surviving a marriage they were forced into, the report states, stressing that “modern slavery is the very antithesis of social justice and sustainable development”.

The figures revealed in the report are staggering. While 27.6 million are into forced labour, 22 million are trapped in a forced marriage. Alternatively, 11.8 million women and girls are being made to work against their will and 3.3 million of the 27 million are children.

No region of the world is spared from forced labour, the ILO further points out. More than half of the global total – 15.1 million labourers – is from the Asia and the Pacific countries. This is followed by Europe and Central Asia (4.1 million), Africa (3.8 million), the Americas (3.6 million), and the Arab States (0.9 million).

However, when it comes to population proportion, the figure is the highest in the Arab States (5.3 per thousand people), followed

by Europe and Central Asia (4.4 per thousand), the report points out. In the Americas and Asia and the Pacific, the figure is the same at global average – at 3.5 per thousand. While in Africa, this figure stands at 2.9 per thousand.

What is also a matter of concern is that 86 per cent of these cases are imposed in private economies. “State-imposed forced labour accounts for the remaining 14 per cent of people in forced labour,” the UN agency underlines. “When population is taken into account, forced labour is highest in low income countries (6.3 per thousand people) followed by high income countries (4.4 per thousand).

As compared to the 2016 global estimates, an increase of 2.7 million in forced labour has been registered, which translates to a rise in the prevalence of forced labour from 3.4 to 3.5 per thousand people in the world, it says.