By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - A survey by the UN has found that human trafficking cases have reached a record-high in recent years.
The survey -- Global Report On Trafficking In Persons -- conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for 2016 has noted that armed conflict and displacement are major drivers of human trafficking.
“The [report] shows a record-high number of cases detected during 2016, but also the largest recorded conviction rate of traffickers,” said the report released late on Tuesday.
In 2003, 20,000 such cases were recorded, the UN report said, but in 2016 the cases jumped to over 25,000.
“The report was undertaken for a simple reason: if we want to succeed in confronting human trafficking in all its manifestations, we must better understand its scope and structure,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC’s executive director.
The report said that human traffickers continue to target women and girls for sexual exploitation and 35 percent of those trafficked for forced labor are female.
“Most of the victims detected globally are trafficked for sexual exploitation,” it added.
“We need to appreciate where human trafficking is happening, who are its victims and who is perpetrating this crime,” Fedotov said.
The record informed that rising conviction and detection rates is a “sign that countries have strengthened their capacity to identify victims”.
However, African and Asian countries continue to witness low conviction rates.
It also said that only 26 countries in 2009 had an institution which systematically collected and disseminated data on trafficking cases which rose to 65 countries in 2018.
Fedotov said at the release ceremony of the report that armed conflicts can “increase vulnerability to trafficking because of weak rule of law and lack of resources to respond to crime”.
“This is the case for example in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, South-East Asia and elsewhere,” he added.
“In some refugee camps in the Middle East, also, it has been documented that girls and young women have been ‘married off’ without their consent and subjected to sexual exploitation in neighboring countries,” the UNODC chief said.
The report added that migrants and refugees travelling through conflict areas, such as Libya or parts of sub-Saharan Africa, also face risk of trafficking.
Calling upon the international community to accelerate progress to build capacities and cooperation to stop human trafficking, Fedotov said: “Nearly every country now has legislation in place criminalizing human trafficking.”