The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime has launched a programme to help victims of the slave trade, mostly women and children who are sexually exploited or forced into other work for criminals. However, the London-based 720,000-euro fund says a lot more donations are needed.
The European agency Europol is a key participant in a comprehensive response. Its director, Rob Wainwright, said: “We estimate there are over a quarter of million victims of the traffic in human beings in Europe at the moment. It’s a five billion euro trade, we think, in Europe, so it is a significant problem and we are busy working with the police authorities around Europe.”
The UN estimates that 2.4 million people worldwide are under the traffickers’ heel, and that the trade generates some 23 billion euros annually.
Read more: Rebuilding a victim’s trust
Victim support centres must apply for the UN aid money. Actress Mira Sorvino, a UN Goodwill Ambassador, spoke at the launch about the people they are trying to reach: “If you meet just one person who has been trafficked and you look into their face and you hear them saying they think that we are lower than cockroaches. They think: ‘We were born for this,’ but they are wrong. We are born for so much more. You realise that they are like a forgotten or unseen population that deserve every right that we all have.”