Modern slavery has increased around the world in recent years, especially fueled by the pandemic, with nearly 50 million people forced into work or marriage last year, the UN’s International Labor Organization said on Monday.
Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict and climate change have caused an unprecedented drop in employment and education, while exacerbating extreme poverty and forced migration, the agency said.
Compared to the last count in 2016, the number of people in modern slavery has threatened to rise to about 9.3 million.
According to the latest figures, forced labor accounted for 27.6 million of those in modern slavery in 2021, of which more than 3.3 million are children, and forced marriage 22 million.
The ILO found that more than half of forced labor occurred in upper-middle or high-income countries and that migrant workers are more than three times as likely to be affected.
“It is scandalous that the state of modern slavery is not improving. Nothing can justify the persistence of this fundamental abuse of human rights,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement.
The report mentions Qatar, which has faced numerous allegations of labor rights violations against immigrants working there in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup, which begins in November.
However, since the ILO opened an office in the capital, Doha, in April 2018, “significant progress” has been made in relation to the living and working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the country, although Problems continue to exist in the application of the new labor regulations, according to the report.
Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khater said on Thursday that the country had faced a lot of unfair criticism of its hosting of the World Cup that was not based on fact, but that it had responded to any fair criticism.
The ILO report also noted concerns about forced labor in some areas of China.
The organization pointed to a report released by the UN human rights commissioner on August 31, which stated that “serious human rights violations” had been committed in China and that the detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang could constitute crimes against humanity.
China has strongly denied these allegations.
With information from Reuters and AFP.