The United Nations agencies that deal with helping refugees and with fighting
crime has signed a joint agreement to work together more closely to combat
human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
The memorandum of understanding, signed by the Executive Director of the UN
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov and the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres, aims to combine the work of both entities in
overlapping issues to more effectively target criminals involved in human
trafficking and to better protect their victims.
“UNODC’s mandate in combating organized crime is complementary to UNHCR’s work
of protecting refugees. As we have often seen with human trafficking and migrant
smuggling, criminals prey on society’s most vulnerable,” said Mr. Fedotov at the
signing in New York.
“Refugees, in search of a better life, can become victims of these criminals and
it’s important that we offer coordinated assistance to those who need it the
“The 21st century is the century of people on the move. Climate change, food
insecurity, urbanization, population growth, all these trends are combining and
forcing people to move and there are complex protection gaps,” Mr. Guterres
said, adding that this opens opportunities for illegal and forced migration.
“Money moves freely, goods tend to move more or less freely, but there are
enormous obstacles for the movement of people,” he said, stressing that human
trafficking presents a situation where human rights are at their most
“We need to make sure that we crack down on the criminals that perpetuate this
new form of slavery and protect their victims, which is why working together is
so relevant for us,” he said.
Mr. Guterres also called on the international community to increase its
investment to combat human trafficking in the same way that it has invested in
fighting drug trafficking saying this type of crime is just as relevant and also
needs and urgent response and commitment.
The agreement will focus on four defined regions based on the agencies’ work:
Latin America, the Gulf of Aden, Afghanistan and its bordering countries, and