Smuggling of migrants tops agenda at opening of conference on organized crime

Asylum-seekers and economic migrants take to the seas, waiting out the dangerous journey in the boat's cramped cargo space. Photo: UNHCR/A. D'Amato

6 October 2014 – The two main routes of smuggling of migrants to Europe and North America generate nearly $7 billion a year to the smuggling networks, according to an estimate today released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Terrible tragedies are occurring daily as vulnerable women, children and men, place their trust in criminals to smuggle them across national borders,” UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov said in Vienna at a conference focusing on the cooperation needed to confront criminals.

He was addressing the opening of the Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The Conference will address different aspects of the UN Convention, from trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants to international cooperation on extraditions and new forms of transnational organized crime.

In addition, transnational organized crime challenges from trafficking in human organs, to wildlife and forest crime, to protecting vulnerable minors in West Africa will be discussed in more than 30 side events that are taking place from today through Friday.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Fedotov called on the international community to be united in its desire to see smugglers successfully prosecuted, jailed and deprived of their criminal assets, while migrants are given care and protection.

“Through close cooperation, information sharing and joint operations, we can prevent the smugglers from staying one step ahead of law enforcement,” he said.

More than 40,000 migrants since 2000 have died making hazardous journeys to a new life, according to a recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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