VIENNA – Trafficking in human beings , which concerns men, women, children victims of criminal activities ranging from sexual exploitation to organ harvesting, remains largely unpunished throughout the world, laments a report of the United Nations published on Monday.
Despite a recent trend towards increasing the number of convictions for human trafficking in Africa and the Middle East, "the total number (of convictions, ed) in these areas remains very low," explains a report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), headquartered in Vienna.
"Traffickers practically do not risk being brought to justice," says the document, which calls for increased international cooperation to prosecute criminal networks.
The report, compiling data up to the year 2016, notes that at this time never have countries experiencing situations of armed conflict been so numerous in the last thirty years.
However, the existence of an armed conflict "reinforces the risk of trafficking in human beings" because these conflicts are often accompanied by the failure of the authorities, forced displacements of populations, the bursting of family structures and economic precariousness, UNODC stresses.
Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is by far the most common, accounting for 59% of the victims identified in 2016.
UNODC cites the case of thousands of girls and women of the Yezidi minority enslaved by the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.
One of them, Nadia Murad, is one of two winners of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize who distinguished her for her activism for the victims.
Forced labor is the second most common form of human trafficking, accounting for one-third of the victims covered by the data and prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
One hundred cases relating to organ trafficking were reported over the period 2014-2017. Refugee camps are a prime focus for traffickers who recruit victims "with false promises of money and / or transportation to safer locations."
In some cases, evidence of collusion between traffickers and "health professionals, using corrupt and fraudulent practices" was found.
UNODC notes that 70% of trafficking victims detected worldwide are women and 23% of all identified victims are minors.
Forced marriage is a situation of particular concern to women in Southeast Asia.
UNODC does not provide an estimate of the number of victims of trafficking worldwide. The number of cases identified was just under 25,000 in 2016, an increase of more than 10,000 since 2011, with "more pronounced increases in the Americas and Asia".
However, the report warns that the increase may be due to more effective identification, rather than an increase in the number of people trafficked.