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Protect trafficking victims from exploitation – UN urges countries

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Secretary General of United Nations, António Guterres has said that countries need to do more to protect trafficking victims and prevent vulnerable people from being exploited by criminals, while pledged to work for inclusive societies and economies that leave no one behind.

In a message to celebrate this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, while honoured the first responders helping to end the crime of human trafficking: law enforcement officers, social workers, healthcare professionals, NGO staff and many others working around the world to protect the vulnerable.

According to him, “women and girls already account for more than 70 per cent of detected human trafficking victims, and today are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  With previous downturns showing that women face a harder time getting paid jobs back in the aftermath of crisis, vigilance is especially important at this time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many global inequalities, created new obstacles on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and left millions of people at greater risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriage and other crimes”, he said.

He noted that as frontline heroes saving lives and sustaining the societies in the COVID-19 pandemic, also these providers are keeping vital services going throughout the crisis, identifying victims, ensuring their access to justice, health, social assistance and protection, and preventing further abuse and exploitation.

Guterres thanked the first responders and urged all governments and societies to join their cause, including through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.

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