By Robin Gomes
The United Nations chief is urging all to reaffirm their commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives.
“Armed conflict, displacement, climate change, natural disasters and poverty exacerbate the vulnerabilities and desperation that enable trafficking to flourish,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ noted in a message for the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, observed on Tuesday.
The annual observance was established by a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2013, designating its observance on 30 July each year.The
For this year’s observation, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, is focusing on highlighting the importance of government action in the interest of victims of trafficking. But the call to action is also to everyone.
Pope Francis is one among many who has raised his voice against the scourge on World Day against Trafficking in Persons on Tuesday.
“Let us pray that the Lord will free the victims of human trafficking and help us to respond actively to the cry for help of so many of our brothers and sisters who are deprived of their dignity and freedom,” the Pope tweeted.
The Holy Father, who attaches enormous importance to the plight of the millions of trafficked and enslaved men, women and children, has described the crime as an “atrocious scourge”, an “aberrant plague” and an “open wound on the body of the contemporary society”.
72% of trafficked victims are women and girls
According to UNODC, 72 per cent of detected victims are women and girls, and 30 per cent are children. The percentage of child victims has more than doubled from 2004 to 2016.
“Most detected victims,” Guterres said, “are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labour, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse.”
He pointed out that traffickers and terrorist groups prey on the vulnerable, from people in poverty to those caught up in war or who face discrimination.
In this regard, he said that Nadia Murad, the first trafficking victim to serve as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, was justly co-awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for galvanizing international action to stop trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.
The UN Secretary-General noted that migrants are particularly the victims of human trafficking. “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”
Guterres pointed out that abuse and exploitation take place around us, with countless businesses and enterprises benefitting from the misery of others in sectors such as food production and consumer goods.
Despite efforts and actions against human trafficking, he said, more needs to be done to bring transnational trafficking networks to justice. He particularly urged that victims are identified and can access the protection and services they need.
"On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives," Guterres added.