As reported by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, human trafficking networks, as with other criminal groups, take advantage of people's vulnerability during a humanitarian crisis, such as COVID-19.
The multidimensional aspect of the pandemic is often referred to in political debates and in the media, as it has not only health but also economic and social implications. Due to the urgent, critical and often discouraging nature of COVID-19, the society is reacting to the advancement of the emergency by experiencing emotions such as fear and rejection, stimulated by the spread of false information. This is the case of migrants, who are frequently accused of bringing the virus to a certain country or of causing the increase in cases.
Since 1979, the IOM has supported some 1.3 million migrants across the world through its Assisted Voluntary Return Programme (AVR). The program focuses on migrants who wish to return to their country of origin but without the means to do so. Persons from the migrant population that can access this program include: rejected asylum seekers applicants, victims of human trafficking, stranded migrants, and other vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors, among others.
Any legislation, policy or practice aimed at preventing the unnecessary detention of persons for reasons related to their migration status, can be considered as an alternative to migrant detention, whether formal or informal, according to IOM.
In cases of forced displacement, extortion is often mentioned as one of the main causes. However, extortion is located within a cycle of violence, such sexual violence, murder, etc., and it is difficult to identify a single incident of extortion as the sole reason for leaving a country.