The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and its Goodwill Ambassador, Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino, today launched a new fund that will support groups working on the frontlines to assist the victims of human trafficking.
The announcement of the Small Grants Facility for victims of human trafficking coincides with International Women’s Day, a symbolic move, according to UNODC, given that two-thirds of the victims of this $32 billion global industry are women and children.
The Facility is part of the UNODC-managed UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, which provides humanitarian, legal and financial aid through established channels of assistance, such as governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
The UN estimates that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited after being trafficked by unscrupulous human smugglers. The Voluntary Trust Fund, launched last November, is an important element of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in July 2010.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov highlighted the critical steps being taken in pushing an increased victim-centred approach to human trafficking as he addressed the launch event in London.
“The launch of this Small Grants Facility is the first concrete step in rolling out the UN General Assembly’s Global Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons adopted in 2010. As a coordinated and comprehensive approach to end human trafficking in all its forms, the Trust Fund will make a real difference to the lives of those who need it most.”
Ms. Sorvino stressed the need to prioritize responses to victims. “Through my work in various parts of the world I have seen with my own eyes the unspeakable pain trafficking victims go through: from girls stolen from their homes or sold by their own parents into sex work, to men enslaved and made to perform torturous labour, to children whose innocence and safety are ripped from them at the hands of adults whose only concern is their profitability.
“As a victims’ advocate in the fight against human trafficking, I encourage each and every person to work together in tackling this crime: modern day slavery only exists because we tolerate it.”
UNODC estimates that in Europe alone, trafficking is worth an annual $3 billion, with around 140,000 people trapped in a vicious cycle of violence, abuse and degradation across the continent.
“Our fellow human beings are sold like goods – it’s time we renew our stance towards this terrible practice and work to beat this crime,” said Mr. Fedotov.