We know how to fight this fight says UNODC head at Vienna human trafficking event

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov calls for human traffickers and migrant smugglers to be stopped as part of overall response to refugee crisis. Photo: UNODC25 July 2016 - Speaking at a special event marking World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said today that human traffickers and migrant smugglers were profiting from misery.

Acknowledging that the international community was also struggling with the biggest refugee and migration crisis since the Second World War, Mr. Fedotov said: "Armed conflicts and humanitarian crises expose those caught in the crossfire to increased risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, organ removal, servitude and other forms of slavery."

Mr. Fedotov said UNODC's new Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, to be released later this year, would show the link between human trafficking and refugee flows from countries, including Syria and Eritrea and involving refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Turning to what the international community can do to eliminate human trafficking the UNODC Chief noted that "for too long, migrant smugglers and human traffickers have gone about their business with impunity".

"But," he said, "we know how to fight this fight." Mr. Fedotov called on the international community to stop human traffickers and migrant smugglers as part of the coordinated response to the refugee crisis and migration challenge.

He urged governments to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its protocols on human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Countries must also show greater willingness to use mutual legal assistance and extradition to ensure that the alleged criminals cannot escape justice by simply crossing borders, he said.

There was also a need for greater contributions to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. Mr. Fedotov also stressed that the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September this year offered an opportunity to reinforce all of these efforts.

The special event on human trafficking marked World Day against Trafficking in Persons, which is held every year on 30 July.

Other speakers included the Permanent Representative of Belarus, Valery Voronetsky, and of the United States, Laura Holgate, as well as representatives from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Organization for Migration and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development.

Further information:

UNODC Executive Director's full speech at the event

UNODC's work on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants

United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking

Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling (GLO.ACT)