Dear Ambassador Gabr,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to join you today to close this side-event on sharing best practices of developing countries in the protection of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants.
I’m grateful to Egypt for organizing this event, and to Mexico, Nigeria, and the Philippines for supporting it.
This is exactly the right time to prioritize helping and protecting victims and those who are at risk, particularly in developing countries.
As the world struggles through crises of climate, conflict, and public health, people are left fleeing strife, with more than 100 million people forcibly displaced today, representing one in every 78 people on earth.
The latest numbers coming out from Sudan show that the number of people displaced by the crisis there has surpassed one million.
Developing countries often bear the worst consequences, and many among their populations are left vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.
Women and girls are particularly at risk, accounting for 60 per cent of victims of human trafficking according to our latest data.
Female victims are also three times more likely to be subjected to violent forms of trafficking.
Protecting victims who are preyed upon by traffickers and smugglers is a moral obligation.
It is also a necessary step to put an end to these crimes in an effective and sustainable manner.
But providing meaningful protection requires trust, and that trust must be earned.
The institutions that are fighting human trafficking and migrant smuggling must enjoy full integrity and transparency, and the protection they provide to people affected by those crimes must be comprehensive.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Building capacities to protect victims is imperative, particularly in developing countries, which are often countries of origin, of transit, and of destination.
By sharing best practices and successful approaches, you can help create strong frameworks of protection and support across borders, so that help will always be available to those who need it.
The countries sponsoring today’s event provide some notable examples in this regard.
In Egypt, the organizer of this event, the National Coordinating Committee for Combating and Preventing Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons is playing an important role in leading inter-ministerial coordination, to ensure that the approach to the topic is balanced and comprehensive.
In Mexico, the Ministry of Interior has enhanced coordination efforts amongst civil society and authorities’ shelters to provide timely and survivor-informed assistance services to trafficking in persons victims.
In Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other related Matters, is a good model in the West African region.
And in the Philippines, the Department of Social Welfare and Development operates many care facilities that provide services to victims of trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
It is particularly encouraging to see that your institutions are working closely with civil society organizations, who can often extend a helping hand where governments alone cannot.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to Ambassador Gabr for her tireless efforts to protect people who are vulnerable and on the move, in Egypt and beyond, and I witnessed this first hand in a previous life, when I was a Minister in Egypt, and Ambassador Gabr would bring us all around one table, to work together rather than in silos.
Your work is essential, dear Ambassador, and I have every confidence that you will continue to make an impact.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As vulnerabilities deepen and challenges grow in complexity, a holistic approach is needed to protect victims, prosecute offenders, and address root causes.
In countries of origin, we need investment in peace and security, climate adaptation, and sustainable development, to avoid the conditions that leave people at risk.
In countries of destination, we need pathways to safe, orderly, and secure migration, as well as laws and policies that preserve the safety and dignity of victims and people on the move.
And across the chain of origin, transit, and destination countries, we need to provide solid protection mechanisms, and ensure that people are not punished for being smuggled, trafficked, or coerced into illegal acts.
At UNODC, we continue to work with relevant UN entities and other partners to provide comprehensive support, including through the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, which UNODC co-ordinates.
I hope that today’s event has allowed you to share successful practices, and we stand ready to help you to help people on the ground.