Human trafficking is a callous global industry that denies victims their rights and dignity and generates billions of dollars for organized criminal networks. Most of those trafficked are vulnerable women and children deceived into a life of suffering. They are exploited for sex and forced to work in conditions akin to slavery.
This first World Day against Trafficking in Persons is a call to action to end this crime and give hope to the victims, who often live unrecognized among us. To stop the traffickers, we must sever funding pipelines and seize assets. I urge all countries to ratify and fully implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.
Enforcement, cross-border cooperation and information-sharing can all be effective, but ending human trafficking also means tackling the root causes. Extreme poverty, entrenched inequality and a lack of education and opportunity create the vulnerabilities that traffickers exploit. Ultimately, the best protection is to accelerate development for all.
Victims of trafficking who are fortunate enough to be freed need assistance to regain their rights and reintegrate into society. The UN Trust Fund for the Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, works on their behalf but needs additional funding. I appeal to everyone to support the UN campaign, “Have a Heart for Victims of Human Trafficking”.
Let us open our eyes to this crime and our hearts to the victims. It is time to say no to human trafficking.
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