modern slavery

No one chooses to be a refugee

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No one chooses to be a refugee.

Leaving your country, your home, or your life behind is never a decision that is taken lightly. But people do it because they believe it is the safest option for them and their families.

Some are fleeing conflict, others extreme poverty or persecution, but one thing they all have is the desire to find safety or freedom.

Travelling across borders comes with many dangers and challenges, and the people in search of security are often deeply vulnerable, poor or desperate.

This leads to many people falling into the clutches of traffickers and becoming victims of forced labour or sexual exploitation.

Causeway have supported thousands of vulnerable people over the years, including many who seek asylum. Some were exploited abroad and came to the UK seeking refuge, while others arrived in the UK only to find themselves exploited here.

Vivi* was supported in one of our safe houses after fleeing extreme violence and forced sex work.

After leaving her home in Somalia to escape a life of poverty, she was persuaded to join a group of 'other Somalis and Arabs’ to travel 'to a place that took three days to get to by boat.'

Once there, instead of being helped, she was forced into prostitution and beaten if she did not comply. Luckily she escaped 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. It is hard to find peace. All I wish for is a place of my own and freedom, that is all.”

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, and will not receive the support they need.

If the government's new Illegal Immigration Bill is passed (it is currently going through the House of Lords), new policy will mean that anyone arriving in the UK 'illegally,' even if they are fleeing conflict, or have been forced into modern slavery, they will automatically be denied support.

This means that people like Vivi, who have suffered at the hands of traffickers, will not be able to access support or justice, even if the abuse and exploitation happened in the UK.