UNHCR chief calls for action against trafficking of humans

News Stories, 1 November 2011

© UN Photo/Mark Garten
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov and UNHCR chief António Guterres shake hands after signing the memorandum of understanding.

NEW YORK, United States, November 1 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has called for a concerted international effort to combat the trafficking of human beings.

"The international community needs to crack down on the criminals who commit the crimes and provide protection to the victims," he said in New York on Monday. Many refugees are vulnerable to human trafficking.

Guterres made his remarks after signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between his agency and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The MoU, the first of its kind between the two agencies, aims to counter human trafficking and people smuggling.

"As we have often seen with human trafficking and migrant smuggling, criminals prey on society's most vulnerable. 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 most," UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said at the signing ceremony.

The MoU calls for increasing exchange of information between the two organizations and for the setting up of coordination mechanisms where appropriate in specific country situations and in areas of shared concern, such as protection safeguards in relation to border management. Enhanced information sharing would help identify areas of operational cooperation.