Press Conference on New United Nations Fund to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

4 November 2010

Press Conference on New United Nations Fund to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

4 November 2010
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on New United Nations Fund to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

 

Hollywood celebrities Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher joined with senior officials of the United Nations anti-crime agency this afternoon to appeal for support to a new Fund to aid victims of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking destroys the lives of women and children all over the world,” Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said at a Headquarters press briefing immediately before the launch of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.

“They need our support; they need our solidarity,” Mr. Fedotov said, urging contributions to the Fund, which will provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims, under the management of UNODC and with the advice of a Board of Trustees appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General.

He stressed the need for global cooperation to eradicate what he called a “despicable crime”.  The Fund, he said, would help people escape their captors, return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

Joined by Simone Monasebian, Chief of the UNODC New York Office, Mr. Fedotov introduced Ms. Moore and Mr. Kutcher as “deeply committed to the struggle against human trafficking”, having created the Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to raise awareness of child sex slavery, fight stereotypes of victims and rehabilitate them.

In a brief statement, Ms. Moore said: “I prefer to call [human trafficking] what it is, which is modern slavery,” stressing the magnitude of the scourge, which afflicts some 27 million people worldwide.

Speaking of her acquaintance with victims in the course of her work, she said that the average age of a young girl sold into such slavery was 13 and the average profit made by a pimp from one girl’s repeated “rape for profit” was $200,000, making it a “seriously lucrative business”.

Only one out of a hundred victims was rescued, she said, and of that number only a few had been provided rehabilitation services.  She stressed, however, that those who had been rehabilitated became “powerful forces” in fighting trafficking in persons and advocating for victims’ rights.

She encouraged all Governments, as well as the private sector, to contribute to the Trust Fund, calling on correspondents to shed a spotlight on what she called an atrocious problem, to help make it a priority on the international agenda.  “Freedom is a basic human right,” she said.

Mr. Kutcher said he was appalled that, today, 62 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that strongly condemned slavery, there were more slaves than at any previous era of human history.  “Something has to be done,” he maintained.  “We are failing optionless victims”.

Ascribing the continuation of the scourge to greed and convenience, he said it was time to change the long neglect of the problem, not only for the sake of human rights but also for the sake of national security, since the illicit trades in persons, drugs and arms together supported organized crime and terrorism.

Victims who were rescued, he stressed, became great assets in fighting all those threats, since they had detailed knowledge of the international criminal underworld.

The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, is an element of the new United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons adopted by the General Assembly in July 2010, according to UNODC.  Pledges for the Fund were directed to Ms. Monasebian’s office, tel:  +1 212 963 5631, or monasebian@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.