Human Trafficking on the Rise, Warns U.N.

700,000 to 2 million a Year Enslaved

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NEW YORK, FEB. 20, 2002 ( The United Nations said the world faces an epidemic of human trafficking as a U.N. crime prevention agency launched the second stage of its television campaign against the illicit industry.

The U.N. drug control and crime prevention agency (UNDCP) in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday said human trafficking had become the fastest growing facet of organized crime, the Financial Times reported.

Human rights groups estimate 700,000 people are enslaved every year, the paper stated. In 2000 the U.S. government estimated the figure could be as high as 2 million.

The business involves tricking or coercing mainly women and children, most of whom come from poor countries, and forcing them to toil in factories, work camps or as domestic servants, Europol says.

Criminal organizations are estimated to earn $7 billion a year from economic and sexual slavery, the Financial Times said. Asian prostitutes in the United States can sell for $20,000, while Russian women working in the brothels of Belgium are reported to bring in as much as $7,500 a month, $7,000 of which goes to their overseer, the United Nation says.

The UNDCP 30-second and one-minute public service announcements, which are produced in nine languages, will run on local TV stations in countries where trafficking originates as well as in destination countries.

The agency hopes to raise awareness as well as warn the millions of potential victims, many of whom come from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, of its dangers.

In November 2000, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a protocol against human trafficking, which also addresses the protection of victims and international cooperation.

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