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Film Screening on Smuggling of Migrants, New Delhi (13 March 2007)
The smuggling of migrants from India to Europe through Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa came into the spotlight through the screening of a film on this subject on, Tuesday 13 March here in Delhi. The film -- "Shores Far Away" -- focused on illegal migration from Punjab to the UK. It depicted two tragedies. The despair of the families whose breadwinners are lost in the illegal smuggling process and the dashed dreams of those who leave in search of work and money.
Human smuggling is an organized crime, with the nexus of national "travel agents" and their overseas counterparts running the flourishing "human cargo" business. From India, many of the illegal immigrants into Western Europe have been identified to belong to the state of Punjab, and reported to be taken to the developed countries in Western Europe through Russia and Eastern European countries.
The event was organized by the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia. UNODC is custodian of the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
"It was followed by a panel discussion featuring Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Honourable Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, the Chief Guest for the occasion; Mr. Vinod Khanna, eminent Hindi film personality and Member Parliament, Punjab (Gurdaspur constituency), and Magsaysay awardee Dr. Kiran Bedi, Director General, Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India."
The film -
Shores Far Away
"door kinare" (in Punjabi), which is made by Savyasaachi Jain, of Integri TV, highlights the perils of illegal migration from India into Europe. The 48-minute documentary depicts the aspirations of migrant hopefuls, and of those migrants who have suffered both in body and spirit while pursuing their illegal journey. It also shows the agony of their families back home in India. The film, which was shot extensively in Punjab, Austria and the United Kingdom, reveals many of the unknown aspects of the smuggling process. But its prime focus is the human condition of those who undertake the illegal journey.
The screening drew a large audience, filling the UN Conference Hall. The specially-invited guests were drawn from among government officials, foreign missions, bilateral and multilateral agencies, media personalities, NGO partners, legal professionals, academicians, etc.
The film was well received, and evoked a strong and often emotional reaction from both the participants and the panelists. It showed that an awareness campaign in Punjab on the perils of seeking an illegal route to the west is the need of the hour. Addressing the "push" factors locally and at the national level, strengthening the existing legal machinery and enhancing the response of law enforcement were some other areas discussed.
UNODC's Regional Office for South Asia is keen for a national-level dialogue to take place on the issue of smuggling of migrants from India and elsewhere in the South Asia region it represents." This event is a step in that direction." To date, UNODC ROSA has implemented two important anti-trafficking projects relating to law enforcement training and victim support under its mandate as custodian of another Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. The 13 March event signifies the arrival, at UNODC, of the next stage in the organization's global fight against human trafficking and related activities, which have been gaining momentum.