VIENNA, 6 October 2014 - The following statement by the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, was delivered today at the press conference for the Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
"Terrible tragedies are occurring daily as vulnerable women, children and men, place their trust in criminals to smuggle them across national borders.
According to a recent study of one of our partners, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 40,000 migrants since 2000 have died making hazardous journeys to a new life.
Migrants are drowning at sea, suffocating in containers, and dying of thirst in deserts.
Earlier this year, in May, scores of migrants died off the island of Lampedusa, while in 2013, 92 migrants, including over 50 children, died attempting to cross the Sahara.
UNODC believes that two of the main smuggling routes from East, North and West Africa to Europe, and from South America to North America generate nearly US$7 billion, but the global figure is likely to be significantly higher.
To roll up the smuggling networks, the international community needs to be united in the desire to see smugglers successfully prosecuted, jailed and deprived of their criminal assets, while migrants are given care and protection.
Through close cooperation, information sharing and joint operations, we can prevent the smugglers from staying one step ahead of law enforcement.
We need to send a strong message that smuggling of migrants is incompatible with the world we wish for ourselves and future generations.
But, to achieve genuine success, we must concentrate on breaking up the smuggling networks responsible for so many migrant deaths."
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