Minors Travelling Alone: A Risk Group for Human Trafficking?

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Abstract

Minors travelling without their parent(s) or guardian are an increasing phenomenon. Although their travel objectives might differ importantly, varying from holiday purposes to migration objectives, an important subgroup of them might be at risk to fall into exploitative circumstances, such as human trafficking. Studying the group of minors travelling alone arriving at Brussels Airport (Belgium), this research investigates the population’s characteristics, the procedures used, and the risks some of these minors run of falling into exploitative situations. Firstly, registration revealed that tens of thousands minors travelling alone arrive at Brussels Airport each year, with an important part of them coming from African countries. Secondly, participant observations showed that detection of possible cases of human trafficking is a very complex issue, resulting in the alarming hypothesis that many cases of trafficking of minors travelling alone might not be detected during their journey or at their arrival at the airport.

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