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Infographic: Arab countries among the top ten in the Global Slavery Index report for the year 2023


The “Global Slavery Index” for the year 2023 revealed on Wednesday that North Korea, Eritrea and Mauritania have the highest levels of slavery in the world, pointing to the “deterioration” of the situation at the international level since the last study conducted five years ago.

Countries ranked in the top ten on the index include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, where the “sponsorship” system restricts the rights of foreign workers.

The report stated that about 50 million people “lived in conditions representing modern slavery” in 2021, an increase of ten million people from 2016, which was the last time the problem was measured.

The figure includes about 28 million people suffering from forced labor and 22 million in forced marriage.

The investigation stated that the situation is deteriorating “due to the increasing armed conflicts, which have become more complex, and the widespread environmental deterioration,” as well as the repercussions of the Covid epidemic and other factors.

The report, whose data was collected by the Walk Free human rights organization, defines modern slavery as including “forced labour, forced or bonded marriage, debt bondage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children.”

The basic principle of slavery is based on the “systematic removal of a person’s liberty”, from the right to accept or refuse to work to the freedom to decide whether, when and with whom to marry.

The top ten places: North Korea, Eritrea and Mauritania

Based on this measure, the rate of modern slavery in isolated and authoritarian North Korea is the highest in the world (104.6 per thousand inhabitants), according to the report.

It is followed by Eritrea (90.3) and Mauritania (32), which in 1981 became the last country in the world to classify inherited slavery as illegal.

The ten countries with the highest levels of modern slavery share common features, most notably “limited protection for civil liberties and human rights.”

Many of these countries are located in “turbulent” regions experiencing conflict or political instability, or host large numbers of people deemed “higher risk”, such as refugees or foreign workers.

Other countries included in the top ten list include Turkey (which hosts one million refugees from Syria), Tajikistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

While forced labor is more common in lower-income countries, it is “deeply” linked to demand from higher-income countries, according to the report, which notes that two-thirds of all forced labor cases are linked to global supply chains.

The report stated that the countries of the Group of Twenty, which includes the European Union, along with the 19 largest economies in the world, are currently importing products worth $468 billion that are likely to be produced using forced labour, compared to $354 billion in the previous report.

Electronic devices remain the most valuable product that carries this risk, followed by clothing, palm oil and solar energy panels, in an indication of the great demand for renewable energy products.

“Modern slavery permeates every aspect of our society. It’s woven into our clothes, powers our electronic devices and flavors our food,” said Grace Forrest, founding director of the Walk Free Group.

“Modern slavery is, at its core, an embodiment of extreme inequality. It is a mirror of the possession of power, reflecting who has it in a society and who does not,” she added.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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