Cambodia’s human traffickers alter their business model

As poverty worsens during the pandemic, Cambodians are vulnerable to criminals luring them to work abroad.

Cambodia has long been a magnet for human traffickers. Its porous borders, well-documented culture of impunity and an abundance of impoverished people hoping for a better life have enabled the scourge to flourish since a 30-year civil war ended in 1998.

But the situation has changed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year when borders were closed, international flights reduced to a bare minimum and provinces locked down amid tight security.

During the initial months, human trafficking ground to a halt before re-emerging with new dynamics amid the worst economic conditions in two decades, reshaping a business model that delivers a cheap, servile workforce and women into bondage.

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