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Salvation Army tackles risk of human trafficking as thousands flee Venezuela

Salvation Army tackles risk of human trafficking as thousands flee Venezuela

Salvation Army tackles risk of human trafficking as thousands flee Venezuela

27 August 2018

In Northern Venezuela, The Salvation Army is offering free stationery items to children of refugees to help them continue to access education at this critical time.

IHQ Report

The Salvation Army is responding to needs in the border regions of northern Venezuela, with a particular focus on education, to help prevent vulnerable refugees falling victim to human traffickers.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake, which struck northern Venezuela on Tuesday 21 August, is the latest in a string of disasters that has caused nearly seven per cent of the country’s population to leave in the past two years.

The Salvation Army is working in shelters for refugees.

Economic and political factors have also led to an estimated 2.3 million people leaving their homeland, according to United Nations (UN) figures. Inflation stands at more than 80,000 per cent and four-fifths of Venezuelans now live in poverty.

Food security and general health is a significant issue in some areas where the economy has been most severely affected. To meet immediate humanitarian needs, The Salvation Army has started a project in the northern Venezuelan cities of Maracaibo and Barquismimeto to provide hundreds of people with free, nutritious lunches every weekday.

Breastfeeding mothers will additionally be supported with the provision of nappies, while 200 schoolchildren will be offered stationery items to help them continue to access education at this crucial time.


Brazilian response

Meanwhile, The Salvation Army in Brazil is addressing the issue of human trafficking as refugees head across the southern Venezuelan border into the Brazilian state of Roraima.

Working in partnership with the local UNHCR, CHAME (the anti-human trafficking agency in northern Brazil), the shelter for vulnerable women and children run by the Methodist Church and other churches in Roraima, The Salvation Army has begun a program of small group lectures and interactive learning.

Venezuelan women refugees are being taught appropriate areas of Brazilian law and civil rights, while children and young people are being empowered with teaching about how to respond to difficult situations such as violence and sexual abuse, with the clear message that “no means no”.

The Salvation Army is responding to the needs of refugees.

All groups involved will be educated on how to identify predatory signals common to human traffickers, and given practical advice on how to avoid the risk of becoming ensnared into situations of modern-day slavery.

Printed materials are being produced and distributed in areas frequented by Venezuelan refugees.

The Salvation Army has also equipped the shelter with an additional 40 mattresses, bedding and other necessary resources, in order to ensure that it remains a safe and comfortable place to be as the refugees adapt to life in a culture and legislative framework other than their own.

A further Salvation Army response is being prepared in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where significant numbers of Venezuelan refugees are arriving.

 

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