UNODC Launches Global Review on Migrant Smuggling

24.06.2010 11:20

10 June 2010

Migrant smuggling has been an issue of increasing concern. The negative consequences of this type of transnational crime include the erosion of state sovereignty and the loss of control over who enters and leaves the territory, the potential security implications of clandestine entries and document smuggling, the large profits that accrue to human smugglers and organized criminal groups, the increasingly brutal treatment of migrants by careless smugglers leading to a growing number of deaths by drowning, dehydration, freezing or suffocation, and the high smuggling fees that migrants have to pay for the illegal transfer to destination countries, often leading to high debts for smuggled migrants and making them vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking.

Despite the fact that migrant smuggling has attracted great media and political attention over the last two decades, there has not been any comprehensive analysis of the state of expert knowledge. Great confusion still prevails about what is migrant smuggling within the global context of irregular migration.

UNODC is currently developing and implementing a number of new projects to assess and counter the various threats posed by human smuggling. To do so effectively, and to learn from already existing research on migrant smuggling for current and future programme design, it is imperative to gain an overview of the current state of knowledge on the subject by consolidating the existing literature on the subject in one comprehensive and informative background document.

The Global Review and Annotated Bibliography of Recent Publications on Smuggling of Migrants (Global Review) replies to this need by surveying existing sources and research papers on migrant smuggling, to provide a summary of knowledge and identify gaps based on the most recent and relevant research available on migrant smuggling from a worldwide perspective.

The Global Review is structured in thematic chapters which also address the issue at a regional level. Conceptual challenges, scope of migrant smuggling, profiles of smuggled migrants and of migrant smugglers, their relationships, the organizational structures of smuggling networks, modus operandi and smuggling fee as well as the human and social cost of migrant smuggling are addressed in this Global Review, based on well-informed journalistic books, reports and academic articles.

For a deeper insight of the migrant smuggling phenomenon in specific regions, UNODC will also soon release two regional reviews based on literature review as well as field surveys on the phenomenon of migrant smuggling in North Africa and in West Africa.

To download the Global Review, click here

To download the Executive Summary, click here


Debbie Marulanda


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Helping victims of human trafficking is as simple as talking to a friend. Host an event and invite the community to discuss the exploitation of human beings. At this campaign, we are eager to spread the word and we'd like to talk at any community event about human trafficking and victim identification.

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Trafficking in Persons Report 2016


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These are some of the things you can do to help fight human trafficking:

Be informed! Educate yourself about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in the news. Keep your eyes open - human trafficking is happening all around us.

Raise awareness! Talk to friends, family and colleagues. You could even start talking to your local politicians and authorities.

Get involved! Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and get involved in its activities and campaigns (e.g. hold events, distribute posters, leaflets etc.) in your neighborhood and in schools.

Encourage businesses! Be a responsible consumer! Inform yourself on the labour policies of companies to ensure their products are free from slave labour and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy fair trade products.

Seek support! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked report it to the institutions or assistance facilities dealing with human trafficking in your area.


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