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Human traffickers reap $150 billion in profit annually

Juba, South Sudan,

July 11, 2021 – Unscrupulous criminals engaged in human smuggling and trafficking generate $150 billion every year making their activity the third most profitable illegal business after drug trafficking, the  International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.

Human traffickers reap $150 billion in profit annually
Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission (R) and South Sudan Inspector General of Police Gen. Majak Akec Malok during the launch of the report on human trafficking (photo credit: File)

In its report titled “Trafficking in Persons in South Sudan: Prevalence, Responses and Challenges” launched earlier this week, IOM says an estimated 25 million adults and children have been trafficked worldwide yet only an infinite fraction of victims were identified in 2019 by law enforcement globally.

The victims, IOM says, are trafficked into prostitution, forced domestic labor, and on construction sites, offshore fishing boats, the agriculture sector, and sweatshop industries, adding that most of the incidents go unnoticed.

“We may fail to see these victims of trafficking, or conveniently refuse to see them due to the cheap goods and services they are providing. Trafficking in persons is a heinous crime that treats human beings as mere commodities. Unscrupulous traffickers exploit vulnerable individuals for commercial and personal gains,” part of the report.

Citing an estimate by the International Labour Organization, IOM said “Trafficking in persons generates more than USD 150 billion every year, a sordid trade which is believed to be the third most profitable illegal business after drug trafficking and counterfeiting.”

The organization hinted that with several human trafficking cases going unnoticed or under-reported, the profit generated from the criminal business chain could be well above the estimated annual income and other illegal business.

“Human trafficking continues to be a vastly underreported crime, which means that its global profit may in fact far surpass that all other illegal trades,” it says.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission said ruthless traffickers take advantage of poverty and a lack of perceived socioeconomic perspectives at home, as well as of conflict and natural disasters as they continue to prey on highly vulnerable groups such as internally displaced persons (IDPs), undocumented migrant workers, and helpless young boys and girls.

According to the report, at least 368 South Sudanese nationals have fallen victims to human trafficking and some ended up into sex slaves and cheap labor in the northern part of the continent, particularly Sudan and Libya borders.

The phenomenon is worsened by South Sudan’s lack of legal provisions commensurate to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Punish and Suppress Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crimes and its Protocol.

Sabri Wani Lagu, Senior Legal Counsel and Co-chair at the Ministry of Justice, and Taskforce to Counter Trafficking in Persons lamented that victims of human trafficking have been women and children adding that the country remains one of the major transits for human trafficking.

“South Sudan remained a source, transit, and destination through which people, mostly women, and children, are smuggled into neighboring countries for labor, sex slavery, prostitution, and old-fashioned slavery,” he said.

Part of the report says human traffickers and smugglers gain the victim’s trust then sell them into labor. The report reveals that several South Sudanese mainly from Warrap in Northern Bahr el Ghazal States have become victims of human trafficking.

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