Paper: Protecting Forced Migrant Workers: A Case Study of Rescue Operations for Fishermen Trafficked from Thailand to Indonesia

Paper details

Paper authors Tatsuya Hata and Kaito Takeuchi
In panel on Examining humanitarian action for forced migration: Approaches to the needs of vulnerable groups on the move in crises
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person & Online


In recent years, larger international migration flows, including of voluntary migrants, often taking place in unsafe, undignified manners, leads to increased risk of trafficking. Trafficking and exploitation severely constrain people's agency and freedom, leading to forced forms of migration, including for migrants who initially moved in voluntary manners. Exploring the life-saving role of anti-trafficking operations in this forced migration context, this study examines a large-scale rescue operation of fishermen trafficked from Thailand to Indonesia between 2014 and 2016, with a specific focus on protection and partnership as humanitarian actions. The study first elaborates a series of rescue operations, illustrating how forced migrant workers at risk inherently require humanitarian action to protect their lives and how challenging the task of meeting sensitive needs could be. It also emerges that the physical, psychological, social, and cultural effects suffered by trafficked migrant workers require longer-term support. Second, it points out that migrant workers together with NGOs and victims of trafficking themselves are essential actors in overcoming these challenges and implementing solutions for the migrants at risk of trafficking. Finally, it notes the increasing importance of building the capacity of stakeholders through partnerships to ensure the deployment of coordination mechanisms in unpredictable emergency situations.