The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed that over 60 million people are driven from their homes and millions are crossing borders to seek asylum for a better life.
In a message marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Ban stated that “horrific abuses” such as human trafficking and enslavement must be confronted.
“Slavery has many modern forms, from the children toiling as domestic servants, farmhands and factory workers, to the bonded labourers struggling to pay off ever-mounting debts, to the victims of sex trafficking who endure horrific abuse,” he said.
“Although statistics about these crimes are difficult to compile, experts estimate that nearly 21 million people are enslaved in our world today. We have a responsibility to them – and to all those at risk – to end this outrage,” he added.
The Day marks the General Assembly's adoption on December 2, 1949 of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.
UN Chief Ban reminded that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -adopted by world leaders in September- aim to alter conditions triggering poverty, setting plans to eradicate forced labour and human trafficking and ending all forms of modern-day slavery and child labour.
“As we strive to achieve these targets, we must also rehabilitate freed victims and help them integrate into society,” he said.
On the other hand International Labour Organisation (ILO) Executive Director, Guy Ryde called on governments to approve laws that make real change in the lives of the 21 million people worldwide who are trapped in modern slavery.
“Slavery is a fundamental abuse of human rights and a major obstacle to social justice. It is an affront to our humanity and it has no place in the twenty-first century. And yet 21 million women, men and children are still trapped in forced labour all over the world, generating $150 billion in illicit profits for those who exploit them,” said Ryder, marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
According to the Global Slavery Index, India alone accounts for 14.2 million people out of the 23.5 million victims in Asia, which marks it as the country with the largest amount of people suffering from slavery.