Distinguished Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Ferrero-Waldner,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this event marking the tenth anniversary of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Belgium for co-organizing.
The Trust Fund was established as part of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons adopted in 2010 by the General Assembly.
Building on the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, the Plan brought the international community together to promote comprehensive, coordinated and victim-centered responses to this crime, which affects every country in the world.
Victims are trafficked overwhelmingly for sexual exploitation and for forced labour, deprived of their rights and denied their human dignity, while the organized criminal groups behind the trafficking networks too often enjoy impunity.
More than 60 per cent of all detected human trafficking victims are women and girls, while 30 per cent are children.
Progress on victim detection and support has been made in the 20 years since the Protocol was adopted and the 10 years since the Plan of Action has been in place.
UNODC data shows a clear link between the introduction of anti-trafficking measures in more than 40 countries since the Protocol’s entry into force, and more victims being identified.
The Global Plan has further focused international attention on the need for gender- and age-sensitive approaches in addressing vulnerability to trafficking in persons and in strengthening the criminal justice response.
UNODC helps countries in their implementation of the Protocol and Global Plan of Action through legislative assistance and technical cooperation, underpinned by comprehensive, global research on trafficking in persons.
Our office delivers advice and support to law enforcement officers, criminal justice practitioners as well as victim assistance providers, especially NGOs.
UNODC’s management of the Trust Fund represents another important part of our victim-centred responses to human trafficking.
The Trust Fund, which has a particular focus on women and children victims, provides humanitarian, legal and financial aid through non-governmental organizations specializing in critical assistance to victims, including shelter, health services, education and vocational training, as well as psychosocial, legal and economic support.
We are proud to have representatives of some of our partner NGOs join us at today’s event.
So far, the Trust Fund has awarded 4.6 million dollars in grants to almost 90 NGO projects worldwide, directly assisting more than 3,500 victims a year around the world.
The Trust Fund relies on the contributions of governments, the private sector and concerned individuals to provide this support.
In this regard, I would like to thank Sweden for its recent generous contribution, and express my gratitude to Belgium, France and Australia for their strong support of the Trust Fund and active participation in this side event today.
UNODC also channels all proceeds of our Blue Heart campaign against trafficking in persons to the Fund.
Most recently, the Trust Fund has been responding to the immediate needs of human trafficking victims in regions hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the emergency aid response window of its small grants programme.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the outgoing Board of Trustees for their work and commitment, and to congratulate the new Board members on their appointment.
We count on them to help mobilize more resources and ensure adequate distribution of funding in the most efficient manner.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Direct assistance is all the more crucial now with the COVID crisis continuing to disrupt services to victims in many countries.
Vulnerable people, including victims of human trafficking, are suffering the most in this pandemic, not least because of unequal access to health care and social protection.
UNODC analysis indicates that in the medium to long term, rising unemployment and loss of livelihoods will further increase trafficking vulnerabilities.
In this anniversary year, let us mobilize fresh support for the only UN Trust Fund with a specific focus on women and girl victims of trafficking in persons worldwide.
I urge Member States and the private sector to contribute to the Trust Fund, help more trafficking survivors rebuild their lives, and prevent others from becoming victims.
We count on your generous support. Thank you.