People smugglers make billions: UN report

By AFP   June 13, 2018 | 08:02 pm PT
People smugglers make billions: UN report
Migrants are seen walking in northern France in 2017. Photo by AFP
Those fleeing war and poverty are so desperate that they put their trust in smuggling gangs.

People smugglers made billions on the backs of some 2.5 million desperate migrants in 2016, the U.N. said in a report Wednesday as the plight of refugees worldwide continues to top the headlines.

The report, issued by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said people-smuggling rings earned some $7 billion in 2016 - an amount, it noted, equal to U.S. and EU humanitarian aid that year.

The figures are the latest available covering 30 major migrant routes in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia but they quite likely understate the extent of the problem, according to the report.

The real tragedy remains the plight of human beings fleeing war and poverty so desperate that they put their trust in smuggling gangs who have little regard for their safety, with thousands of migrants dying each year.

"This transnational crime preys on the most vulnerable of the vulnerable," said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC Director of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs in a statement.

"It's a global crime that requires global action, including improved regional and international cooperation and national criminal justice responses."

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