30 July 2016
Vienna, 29 July 2016 - Human trafficking is a parasitic crime that feeds on vulnerability, thrives in times of uncertainty and profits from inaction.
While the international community struggles with what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War Two, human traffickers and migrant smugglers are taking advantage of misery to turn a profit.
Criminals prey on people in need and without support, and they see migrants, especially children, as easy targets for exploitation, violence and abuse.
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 exploitation.
While not all migrants are vulnerable to being trafficked, the forthcoming UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016 identifies a clear pattern linking undocumented migration to trafficking in persons.
Certain migration flows appear particularly vulnerable to trafficking in persons. Citizens from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador represent about 20 per cent of the victims detected in the United States, while the legal migration flows from these countries represent about five per cent of the total. Similar patterns are found in Western Europe, where citizens from South Eastern Europe comprise a large share of detected victims.
The UNODC report, which will be released later this year, further highlights the links between human trafficking and refugee flows from countries including Syria and Eritrea, and involving Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
We clearly need to do more to stop human traffickers as part of coordinated and comprehensive responses to the refugee crisis and continuing migration challenges we are facing around the world.
I call on governments to ratify and effectively implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols on trafficking and migrant smuggling, to assist and protect victims and the rights of smuggled migrants, and promote the international cooperation needed to bring criminals to justice.
By strengthening action under the Protocols, we can reinforce protection for vulnerable children, women, and men, and help promote the safety and dignity of refugees and migrants at all stages of their journey.
Furthermore, I urge governments, companies, and individuals to support the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons: www.unodc.org/humantraffickingfund.
The Trust Fund is financed solely through your donations. The Fund works with NGO partners across the globe to assist trafficking victims by providing shelter, vocational training and schooling, as well as access to health, psychosocial, legal and economic services.
Finally, I encourage everyone - voters and community leaders, business owners and employees, teachers and students, consumers and tourists - to educate themselves and the people around them, and help raise awareness of this terrible crime.
On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us pledge to work together to give victims, as well as the many children, women, and men on the move, who remain far too vulnerable to trafficking, a much-needed voice and a helping hand.
For further information please contact:
Programme Officer, Speechwriting and Communication Team, UNODC
Phone: (+43 1) 26060-4990
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990