The UN anti-drug and crime agency has called on the international community to step up efforts to eradicate human trafficking that has worsened amid conflicts, poverty and break down of law and order in fragile states.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Thursday nearly every country in the world is affected by human trafficking and hundreds of thousands of victims have been forced into exploitative situations every day.
Globally, 27 million people are said to be in modern-day slavery, while about 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually, Amado Philip de Andres, UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa said in a statement ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.
“About 1 million children are exploited by the commercial sex industry every year, 80 percent of victims being women and girls while 70 percent of female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation,” de Andres said.
According to the UN, human trafficking and smuggling of persons is a series global challenge which affects lives of people globally, driving billions of dollars to criminal organizations.
“This is no different for Eastern Africa. Trafficking in persons continue to pose serious threats to Eastern Africa, therefore, effective criminal justice responses and a strong regional cooperation is crucial,” said the UNODC.
The UN agency said while the best-known form of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation, millions of women, men and children are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor, domestic servitude, child begging or removal of their organs.
“Following the Kenyan example, we have the means to overcome those challenges in our region by establishing efficient and fully-operational anti-human trafficking units combined with a strong inter-regional cooperation to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such crimes,” said De Andres.
According to UNODC, criminal gangs have exploited political and social upheavals as well as weak border patrols in low income countries to smuggle vulnerable citizens into foreign lands where they provide unpaid labor or forced into prostitution.
It said human trafficking is being tackled through a variety of national and international means.
UNODC is implementing program activities as part of the ‘Better Migration Management (BMM) Program’ which aims at improving migration management in the region, and in particular at addressing the trafficking and smuggling of migrants within, and from the Horn of Africa.
“For UNODC, this includes assisting countries to draft policy and legislation to criminalize trafficking in line with international treaty obligations, to ensure effective criminal justice capacity building, and to promote international cooperation in criminal matters,” said the UN agency.