Smuggling of migrants throughout the world is a major and increasing issue of concern and especially in a country like India. This issue came into further spotlight, in context of the increasing numbers of youth being illegally smuggled from Punjab to Europe, in a recently held seminar on "
Migration - Myths and Realities…one year on" organized on 28 March 2008. This seminar was an initiative of the British High Commission in close association with Malhotra & Malhotra Associates. The event took place at the Taj Hotel, Chandigarh.
Mr. Gary Lewis, Representative, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for South Asia
On this occasion, key findings from the study on the issue of '
Smuggling of migrants from India into Europe, and in particular to the United Kingdom (UK)', was shared by Mr. Gary Lewis, Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This focused research study commissioned by UNODC with support from British High Commission, was conducted in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu
Mr. Lewis during his address highlighted certain aspects of the study.He pointed out towards the estimated number of migrants from Punjab, is about 20,000 annually and nearly 50% of these are cases of illegal migration to Europe. "On an average, an illegal migrant ends up spending between $20,000 and $30,000. The impact is very severe on the families left behind," shared Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis further pressed on the audience to consider adopting multi-prong approach, which includes spreading awareness in source area such as, Duba region in Punjab and other emerging area. He also indicated that there was a need to strength the capacity of Law Enforcement Agencies.
Several luminaries such as Lord Diljit Rana, Member of House of Lords, UK and Honorary Consul General of the Government of India in Belfast, Mr. H.S. Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab and Mr. Creon Butler, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, graced the seminar. Ms. Ashita Mittal, Senior National Programme Officer, UNODC was also present.
The seminar included a panel discussion, theatre presentation on illegal immigration by Culture Connect and screening of 'Shores Far Away' a film on the pitfalls of Human Trafficking, by UNODC. A short report on the outreach programmes on illegal immigration was also presented by Sukrit (NGO).