At least 2.5 Million Migrants Smuggled in 2016: UN

Addis Ababa June14/2018 At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled during the course of 2016, UN Office Drugs and Crime (UNODC) disclosed.

According to the first ever Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants by UNODC, the migrant smuggling occurred in all parts of the world, generated an income of up to7 billion USD.

 The amount was equivalent to what the U.S. or the European Union spent on humanitarian aid in 2016, the UN agency that fights drugs and crime said.

“This transnational crime preys on the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. It’s a global crime that requires global action, including improved regional and international cooperation and national criminal justice responses,” said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC Director of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs.

Accordingly, the study describes 30 major smuggling routes worldwide and finds that demand for smuggling services is particularly high among refugees who, for lack of other means, may need to use people-smugglers to reach a safe destination fleeing their countries of origin.

Smuggling results in thousands of deaths each year, according to the UN Migration Agency IOM.

It has indicated that not only have some migrants been murdered along smuggling routes, they are also vulnerable to a range of other crimes, including violence, rape, kidnapping and trafficking in persons.

Turning to the gender composition, the study found that smuggled migrants were often influenced by the conditions they faced at home, but, most on the move are relatively young men, in parts of South-East Asia, a large proportion were women.

Smugglers often advertise their business in Diaspora communities, refugee camps or through various social networks online, involving migrant groups, UNODC indicated.

 Smaller-scale smugglers are either ethnically linked to their operating territories, or share ethnic or linguistic ties with the migrants they smuggle, it has elaborated, adding that some successfully smuggled migrants then become smugglers themselves.

The report  has  recommends that a holistic approach must go beyond geographical measures, and include making legal migration opportunities more accessible in origin countries and refugee camps; tackling smuggling networks; and raising awareness in origin communities are just a few ways to combat the scourge.