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Awareness Campaign Seeks to Protect Venezuelan Migrants from Trafficking and Smuggling Networks

Bogotá – #TuVidaCambia (Your Life Changes) awareness raising campaign has been launched in Colombia to protect Venezuelan migrants and refugees from falling prey to trafficking and smuggling networks. This is a common danger Venezuelans face as they migrate through Colombia, as they seek places to settle, or while in transit to other South American destinations, including like Chile, Ecuador and Perú.

Implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with financial support from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), this new campaign is based on a song–#TuVidaCambia—which is, itself, an adaptation of a Venezuelan folk song, Sentir Zuliano*.

The song easily transmits prevention messages during the long and exhausting journeys of refugees and migrants crossing the country who are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking given their significant levels of vulnerability.

Ana Eugenia Durán Salvatierra, IOM Chief of Mission in Colombia explained: “The new version of the song is performed by the band Vos y yo, formed by Venezuelan migrants residing in Colombia.”

She added: “The adapted lyric and other components of the campaign, including live presentations and printed and digital materials with prevention messages, support our goal to provide relevant information to raise awareness among refugees and migrants on the dangers of being deceived and compelled to work under forced labour conditions, becoming victims of sexual exploitation or mendicity, among other forms of trafficking in persons crimes.”

Vos y yo, the band that recorded the track, also travelled between Cúcuta, Colombia, the city on the border with Venezuela, and Bogotá, performing before over 1,000 people in some 20 live shows last week.

Venezuelan refugees and migrants received additional messages to prevent them from falling into human trafficking networks. This crime violates human rights and pursues economic or other benefits by exploiting people, both in and outside Colombia.

As of June 2019, over four million Venezuelans have left their country, with neighboring Colombia thus far their main destination, according to the Coordination Platform for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants (R4V). As reported by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by 30th April 2019 nearly 1.3 million Venezuelans remain in Colombia.

Ministry of Interior data reveal that between 2013 and 2018, there were 422 cases registered as victims of trafficking in persons in Colombia. Women accounted for 84 per cent of victims and sexual exploitation was the most frequent modality (60%), followed by forced labour (25%). Out of such cases, 58 per cent of the victims were 18 to 30 years of age.

Since the mid 1990s, IOM together with its global partners has provided protection and assistance to nearly 100,000 men, women and children victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual and labour exploitation, slavery and other similar practices, such as domestic servitude or organ removal.

Campaign messages may be disseminated and replicated among refugee and migrant communities, with the hashtag #TuVidaCambia.

  • Norberto Pirela and Joseito Rodríguez composed the original song Sentir Zuliano.

For further information please contact IOM Colombia: Andrea López Pinilla, Email: anlopez@iom.int, or Karen Mora, Tel: 57)1 639 7777, Email: kmora@iom.int
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