Irish Naval personnel from the LÉ Eithne (P31) rescuing migrants as part of Operation Triton -CC via Flickr/Irish Defense Forces
CAIRO – 21 September 2018: Forced labor is the most frequently detected form of human trafficking in Africa and the Middle East, stated Chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Kristiina Kangaspunta in a speech at the Africa-Europe Regional Conference on International Cooperation in Investigations and Prosecutions of TIP and SOM Cases on Thursday.
“In Sub Sahara Africa, about 50 percent of detected victims are children and in North Africa, they also constitute the majority of trafficking victims,” she said in the three-day conference, which is held in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh.
Kangaspunta called on the international community to stand closer and together against trafficking in persons and the illegal migration phenomenon. “No nationality is immune to such criminal practices which concern and affect every country in the world,” she added.
“In 2016, African victims of trafficking in persons represented about 15 to 18 percent of all victims of trafficking in persons worldwide and they were trafficked in large numbers to West Europe,” Kangaspunta continued.
Kangaspunta attributed the high number of African migrants to European countries to the lack of economic opportunities and the political instability that hit some African countries.
“Taking advantage of their anguish and misery, smugglers trick them [illegal migrants] into organizing their travel to a promised place in exchange of significant amounts of money,” she said.
It was estimated that more than 2.5 million people were smuggled worldwide for $5.5-7 billion in 2016, she quoted the UNODC Global Study on Smuggling of Mirgants, adding that this amount of money is equivalent to the annual humanitarian aid allocated by only the EU and U.S. on the same year.
As of Aug. 27, a total of 1,560 people were killed in illegal migration voyages in the Mediterranean Sea. This number includes 1,103 migrants who were killed on the Central Mediterranean route, the most used route taken by illegal migrants and asylum seekers in the EU, she cited the UN Secretary-General report to the Security Council.
“This corresponds to one death for every 19 arrivals in 2018, compared to one death for 41 arrivals in 2017,” Kangaspunta said.
She praised the Egyptian government for its cooperation with the UNODC on putting an end to human trafficking and migration smuggling in Egypt.
The Sharm el-Sheikh-held conference is the first African-EU gathering of prosecutors and representatives of 24 countries to discuss international cooperation and efforts exerted for combating illegal migration and human trafficking. It was opened by Egypt's Attorney General Nabil Sadeq, and European Union Ambassador in Cairo Ivan Surkos on Sept. 19.