Human trafficking has far-reaching consequences for a person's safety and dignity and usually flourishes in areas affected by armed conflict or other precarious living conditions. Fragile states, forced or irregular migration, poverty, discrimination and a lack of rule of law are just some of the factors that act as a fertile breeding ground for human trafficking. However, human trafficking is also a source of financing for armed conflicts and violent extremism, which in turn can increase conflict and fragility.
In addition to trafficking in drugs and weapons, human trafficking is a lucrative business activity for organised crime – with an estimated USD 32 billion annual turnover worldwide.
Human trafficking is not the same as people smuggling. Smugglers bring migrants across borders for payment and with the migrants' consent. For this reason, anti-smuggling laws are aimed at protecting borders first and foremost. Human trafficking on the other hand is always a crime against a person and a human rights violation. Human traffickers always exploit their victims.
In the context of forced displacement and migration, people who use smugglers are at a greater risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.