June 30th marks World Day against Trafficking in Persons, and the United Nations has called on countries to increase efforts in cracking down on human trafficking.
The UN estimates that close to 21 million people are affected by human trafficking globally for labour, war and sexual exploitation.
Of these people, one third are believed to be children. Approximately 71% of all people being trafficked across the globe are women and girls.
The UN initiated World Day against Trafficking in Persons in 2013 at a General Assembly, when the organisation decided to dedicate an annual day to raise global awareness on the issue.
In 2015, the UN proposed the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which encourages member states to reach certain goals in their efforts to end human trafficking.
Ahead of World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the United States released their annual Trafficking in Persons report on Tuesday. The report chronicles US efforts to combat human trafficking, as well as the efforts of various other countries.
In the report, the US States Department places countries onto one of three tiers “based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.
In 2016, Myanmar in Southeast Asia was one of the world’s worst offenders in human trafficking. However, the US State Department has promoted the small country in their 2017 report, applauding their increasing efforts against the recruitment of child soldiers.
Myanmar and Iraq were removed from a list of countries that use child soldiers.
China, on the other hand, was demoted to the report’s lowest ranking over it’s human trafficking record. The report said that China was not meeting the minimum standards to stop trafficking and was ‘not making significant efforts to do so’.
China is now in the same category as countries such as North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe.
US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said that human trafficking is a massive, global problem.
“Regrettably, our challenge is enormous…Human trafficking is becoming more nuanced and more difficult to identify. Much of these activities are going underground, and they’re going online,” he said.
The UN has also established a voluntary trust fund for victims of human trafficking which aims to help those who manage to escape their enslavement.