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Women Make up Nearly Half of Trafficking Victims, Secretary-General Warns in Video Message to Ministerial Event, Calling for Assistance, Protection

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SG/SM/21033

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the “Accelerating the level of commitment to fight human trafficking and modern slavery during the global COVID-19 crisis and beyond” virtual ministerial event, held today:

Pandemic and poverty, conflict and the climate emergency: the cascade of crises we face has put the most vulnerable at even greater risk of exploitation, violence and abuse by human traffickers.

In every region, women and girls, refugees and migrants, the downtrodden and desperate are being trafficked for sexual exploitation, and coerced into forced labour.

Women make up nearly half of trafficking victims, while 19 per cent are girls. In low-income countries, children account for half of victims of this multi-billion-dollar industry. This is unimaginable.

Almost every country is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination. All countries must therefore be part of the solution.

I thank Austria, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Qatar, the European Union and the United Kingdom for convening this meeting to strengthen international action to prevent trafficking and protect people from modern-day slavery.

I urge you to promote increased assistance and cooperation, through the Political Declaration and the Global Plan of Action, and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

Trafficking victims must be provided with assistance and protection. They should never face punishment for acts committed as a consequence of being trafficked.

With record numbers of people on the move, Governments must meet their commitments under the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

I also urge all Member States to forge new partnerships with the private sector, civil society and others, to prevent and end the widespread misuse of technology and social media to exploit vulnerable people.

Together, let’s renew our efforts to end human trafficking and modern slavery, as we work to build an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you, and I wish you a successful meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.