Smuggling of migrants

Within Southeast Asia, irregular migration is mainly driven by economic disparities.  Even though borders are porous, UNODC estimates that over 80% of irregular migrants rely on smugglers.  Around half a million migrants mainly from Myanmar (but also from Cambodia and Lao PDR) are estimated to be smuggled to Thailand each year.  Fees for smuggling services are low, ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, meaning it is often cheaper to use smuggling services than regular labour migration systems.



UNODC enhances the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively identify professional smuggling networks and combat the smuggling of migrants by:

  1. Strengthening policy and legislative frameworks;
  2. Enhancing capabilities in identification, investigation and case preparation and prosecution;
  3. Increasing availability of information/data made on the nature and scale of migrant smuggling in the region; and
  4. Enhancing cooperation on a bilateral, regional and international level.