UN partners with London-based watchmakers to help victims of human trafficking

18 January 2012

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and London-based watchmakers Backes and Strauss have announced their new partnership to raise funds for victims of human trafficking through the launch of an exclusive line of watches.

According to a news release issued by UNODC, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the “Victoria Blue Heart Watches” – named after the international symbol of solidarity with victims of human trafficking, the blue heart – will go towards the Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking created in 2010 by the UN General Assembly.

“Criminal proceeds from human trafficking amount to some $60,000 a minute,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said yesterday at the launch of the watches at the Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, Switzerland.

“By comparison, the Voluntary Trust Fund is supported by an average of around 80 cents a minute, based on money received. The disparity is glaring and it has severe implications for our response to human trafficking.”

UNODC estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion annually, rivalling the profits reaped by the illicit trade in arms and drugs. According to the agency’s data, women make up two thirds of trafficking victims, and at any given time, an estimated 2.4 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery.

The Blue Heart Campaign, which is headed by the agency, raises awareness of human trafficking as a shameful crime that exploits millions around the world, and is aimed at preventing more people from becoming victims.

In addition, the Voluntary Trust Fund, which is also managed by UNODC, supports the provision of humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking. In October 2011, its Small Grants Facility awarded funding to 12 front-line organizations working with survivors of human trafficking around the world.

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