At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled during the course of 2016, according to the first-ever Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Wednesday.
Migrant smuggling occurred in all parts of the world, generated an income of up to $7 billion ‘equivalent to the amount the United States or the European Union spent on humanitarian aid that year ‘according to the UN agency that fights drugs and crime.
This transnational crime preys on the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC Director of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, said.
It's a global crime that requires global action, including improved regional and international cooperation and national criminal justice responses, he added.
The study describes 30 major smuggling routes worldwide and finds that demand for smuggling services is particularly high among refugees who, for lack of other means, may need to use people-smugglers to reach a safe destination fleeing their countries of origin.
Data suggests that many smuggling routes include unaccompanied or separated children, who might be particularly vulnerable to deception and abuse by smugglers and others.
According to the UN migration agency IOM, smuggling results in thousands of deaths each year.
Many smuggled migrants die from drowning, whereas others perish due to accidents or extreme terrain and weather conditions. The Mediterranean appears to be the deadliest route, statistically, accounting for around 50 percent of the total number of deaths. (QNA)
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