The Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, has stated that human trafficking has taken on horrific dimension as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters, citing child soldiers, forced labour and sexual slavery as examples.
Fedotov in a statement on the United Nations website, noted that while the average numbers of reported victims had fluctuated during the earlier years for which UNODC had collected data, the global trend has shown a steady increase since 2010.
The statement also noted that Asia and the Americas are the regions which have seen the largest increase in the numbers of victims detected, “which may be explained by improved methods of detecting, recording and reporting data on trafficking – or a real increase in the number of victims.”
It explained that most victims of trafficking detected outside their region of origin are from East Asia, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, adding that there has been an increase in the number of convictions for trafficking in these regions,
The statement which referred to a study added that large areas of impunity still exist in many Asian and African countries, and conviction rates for trafficking remain very low.
According to Fedotov, “Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form in European countries, whilst in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, forced labour is the main factor driving the illicit trade.
“Women and girls make up most trafficking victims worldwide: almost three-quarters of them are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 35 per cent (women and girls) are trafficked for forced labour.
“The main focus of the report is on the impact of armed conflict on trafficking. In conflict zones, where the rule of law is weak, and civilians have little protection from crime, armed groups and criminals may take the opportunity to traffic them.
“One example given in the study is the phenomenon of girls and young women in refugee camps in the Middle East being “married off” without their consent and subjected to sexual exploitation in neighbouring countries.
“Addressing human trafficking is a key part of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, requiring Member States to monitor progress in tackling the problem, and report the number of victims by sex, age and form of exploitation.
“However, significant gaps in knowledge remain, with many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and some parts of East Asia still lacking sufficient capacity to record and share data on trafficking in persons.
“This report shows that we need to step up technical assistance and strengthen cooperation, to support all countries to protect victims and bring criminals to justice, and achieve the sustainable development goals.”