Phuket is a province consisting of Thailand’s largest island, and another 32 smaller islands. Around 400,000 people live in this province, but it attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, for its strikingly blue waters and pearly white beaches.
However, not all is idyllic on the island. In 2004, Phuket was hit by a devastating tsunami. Since then the island has flourished again, but not everyone is benefitting from the growth. People, adults and children alike, suffer from poverty or become victims of human trafficking on the island of Phuket.
Since 2008, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Phuket.
Millions of tourists visit the island of Phuket every single year. This fosters economic prosperity, but also human and drug trafficking. The main causes for human trafficking in Thailand are prostitution, pornography, forced labour and forced begging. About 100 cases are reported each year, although the actual numbers are likely to be much higher. Children are also victims of trafficking, being taken to different cornders of Thailand for commercial sexual exploitation, to sell and beg on the streets of big cities, or to work as domestic servants. The authorities in Phuket have worked hard to eradicate all forms of human trafficking on the island, but they still have a long way to go.
In 2004, South Asia was hit by a tsunami that claimed 5,300 lives in Thailand. The flood destroyed the infrastructure, causing a displacement of the local population. Many people were left without homes, food and clean drinking water.
Since then, Phuket has once again become a tourist hotspot. Many people move to Phuket in search of a better life and job opportunities, but not all benefit from the flourishing economy. Some end up in the slums, where there is a lack of affordable housing, proper sanitation and clean drinking water. Children are the most vulnerable to impoverishment after a natural disaster like the tusnami in 2004.