According to figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 2,500 people have been killed as a result of human trafficking since it began tracking the issue in 1996.
The figure is based on data collected between January and March 2018 and includes people killed by forced labour, rape, abduction and forced recruitment, as well as those who are forced to work as prostitutes.
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The UNODC has said there are around 2.3 million victims of trafficking in the world, and a majority of them are women and children.
But the scale of the problem, the agency said, has made it difficult to keep track of the numbers.UNODCP chief António Guterres said the numbers were not a reflection of the number of victims, but rather a reflection on the difficulty of reporting cases to authorities.
“These numbers are not a good measure of the magnitude of the issue, because the number doesn’t tell you whether it’s the right situation for somebody to be in,” he told reporters in Paris on Tuesday.
The UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called on governments to provide more protection for vulnerable people and said it had seen a rise in the number victims of forced labour.
“We are seeing an increase in forced labour in the poorest countries, and we have to be aware of that,” ILO spokeswoman Andrea Mancini told a news briefing in Geneva.
“The number of people killed, whether they are trafficking victims, is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
The ILO has previously highlighted the risks of trafficking to women and girls, but Mancinis said the number had now increased to include forced labour and sexual exploitation.
“What we have been seeing is an increase of trafficking and trafficking-related violence,” she told reporters.
“There is a risk that more of these crimes are being committed because the perpetrators are able to escape detection.”
The ILo has also been investigating the plight of children, saying they were being sold as sex slaves as a form of child labour.
A report released in July showed a rise of nearly 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse since it was launched in April, a number that was largely blamed on the high number of migrants arriving from the Middle East and Africa.
More than 4,000 unaccompanied children were reported to the UN Children’s Fund, with the number increasing by about 70 percent over the previous two years.