IOM Director General: “The Fight Against Human Trafficking Is Far From Over”

Helsinki – On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, IOM reaffirms its commitment to end human trafficking. 

This year’s theme for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – Victims’ Voices Lead the Way – highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The impact of COVID-19 has increased the number of persons that find themselves in precarious situations where they are more prone to become victims of traffickers who prey on those who are vulnerable to take advantage and exploit them.   

Trafficking in persons, and in particular of children, continues to be a high profit–low risk crime, based upon the principles of supply and demand. Globally, about one third of the overall detected victims of trafficking are children.   

On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) would like to highlight the specific vulnerability of children to trafficking. Child trafficking is one of the worst forms of violence against children, affecting an alarming number of children globally. 

IOM Director General António Vitorino’s speech on 30 July 2021

"Today, we mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and I commend States on the progress made so far in combating this phenomenon. However, the fight against human trafficking is far from over. 

Being 2021 the International Year for Elimination of Child Labour, I would like to focus on the specific vulnerability of children to trafficking. According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 74,514 victims of trafficking were detected in over 110 countries between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, about one third of the overall detected victims were children. Data from IOM and UNICEF indicates that eight out of ten migrant children travelling the Central Mediterranean Route towards Europe report exploitation and are regularly held against their will, forced to work or experience wage theft. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased vulnerabilities of people in already precarious situations and has exposed even more children to risks of trafficking. Poverty, loss of employment, and school closures place children at higher risk of trafficking for purposes of exploitation and abuse. These situations are more acute in humanitarian settings. 

Over the past 30 years, IOM has learned that combatting trafficking in persons requires comprehensive approaches and strong partnerships. I highlight here our work with the Office of Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children. The stories shared by over 100,000 victims assisted by IOM have taught us that we must listen carefully to victims and their struggles. Their strength in expressing their concerns and sharing their stories, and their determination to help build improved responses, is not only crucial but inspiring for all of us."

Watch the speech here.


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