As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Angola, and traffickers exploit victims from Angola abroad. Traffickers exploit Angolans, including children as young as 12 years old, in forced labor in the brick-making, domestic service, construction, agriculture, fisheries, and artisanal diamond mining sectors. Angolan girls as young as 13 are victims of sex trafficking, and girls in domestic work within private homes in Angola are vulnerable to labor trafficking. Angolan adults use children, including Congolese children, younger than 12 in forced criminal activity, such as petty street crimes, because children cannot be criminally prosecuted. Children of refugees lack legal identity documents preventing them from obtaining a secondary education and making them vulnerable to exploitation. As a result of the pandemic, “handlers” increasingly bring children from rural areas to Luanda for street work, including begging, shoe shining, car washing, and parking assistance, where they are vulnerable to forced labor from their handlers and other traffickers. Extreme poverty, economic decline, rising unemployment, and inflation in recent years has led to a significant increase in the number of children using the streets as a source of livelihood, especially in urban areas of the capital.
The provinces of Luanda and Benguela, and the border provinces of Cabinda, Cunene, Lunda Norte, Namibe, Uige, and Zaire are the most high-risk areas for trafficking activities. Government officials in Lunda Norte province continued to deport thousands of undocumented Congolese workers subjecting them to human rights abuses, including rape, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking. Climate change, including slow-onset events like drought in Cunene and Huila provinces, increased displacement, forcing children in some villages to drop out of school to gather water, dig wells, and herd cattle or relocate to urban areas where they faced increased vulnerabilities to trafficking. Severe food insecurity and malnutrition across the southwestern provinces of Angola increased migration into Namibia.
Transnational traffickers take advantage of Angola’s numerous unsecured, informal, and heavily used border crossings. Traffickers take some Angolan boys to Namibia for forced labor in cattle herding and force others to serve as couriers to transport illicit goods as part of a scheme to skirt import fees in cross-border trade with Namibia. Other recruiters take Angolan adults and children to Namibia for work in agriculture, construction, mineral extraction, and unlicensed street vending, where they may be exploited by employers. Traffickers exploit Angolan women and children in forced labor in domestic service and sex trafficking in South Africa, Laos, Namibia, and European countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal. Some men, originally from Algeria and Mauritania, operating small grocery stores – known as cantinas – in Angola reportedly forced their wives and children to return to their countries where they may be exploited in domestic servitude.
Trafficking networks recruit and transport Congolese girls as young as 12 years old from Kasai Occidental in the DRC to Angola for labor and sex trafficking. Undocumented Congolese migrants, including children, enter Angola for work in diamond-mining districts, where traffickers exploit some in forced labor or sex trafficking in mining camps. Traffickers also exploit adult and child Congolese economic migrants in forced labor in construction. Women from Brazil, Cuba, DRC, Namibia, and Vietnam engaged in commercial sex in Angola do not have access to their legal identity documents and may be victims of sex trafficking, including in massage businesses and hotels. Large corporations operating in Angola employ Angolan children to work in brick making. PRC national-owned companies with large construction or mining contracts bring PRC workers to Angola, which increased during the pandemic; some companies do not disclose the terms and conditions of the work at the time of recruitment. There are reports that PRC-owned and -operated construction companies exploit Brazilian, PRC, Kenyan, Namibian, Southeast Asian, and possibly Congolese migrants in forced labor, including through withholding passports, threats of violence, denial of food, and confinement. These companies also at times coerce workers to operate in unsafe conditions, which reportedly have sometimes result in deaths. The Cuban government may have forced their citizens to work in Angola, including at least 256 Cuban doctors sent to Angola to combat the pandemic.