Modern slavery risks have raised in nearly three quarters of the 28 member states of the European Union over the last year, reveals an annual study from global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.
According to the 2nd edition of the Modern Slavery Index (MSI), the five EU countries posing the highest risk are Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria – key entry points for migrants into the region who are extremely vulnerable to exploitation. The research, which assesses 198 countries on the strength of their laws, the effectiveness of their enforcement and the severity of violations, shows drops in the scores for 20 countries across the bloc.
The slavery situation in Romania is deemed as deteriorating worse than any country globally, with it falling 56 places in the ranking to 66th highest risk. Romania and Italy (ranked 133rd), which fell 16 places, have the worst reported violations in the EU, including severe forms of forced labour, such as servitude and trafficking.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that over 100,000 migrants have entered Europe by sea in 2017; 85% of which have landed in Italy. Arrivals in Greece (129th) have fallen dramatically since the 2016 signing of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement, but the country, which dropped 17 places in the index, is host to significant numbers of migrants and remains a key destination for human trafficking, maplecroft.com informs.
According to Verisk Maplecroft, the presence of these vulnerable migrant populations in the primary countries of arrival is a key contributor for increases in slavery across multiple sectors in the region, such as agriculture, construction and services.
Due to the geographic shift in migrant sea arrivals, Verisk Maplecroft expects the risk of modern slavery to worsen in Italy over the next year, with agriculture a sector of concern.