The European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa are launching a three-year project aimed at supporting Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia in dismantling migrant smuggling and human trafficking criminal networks operating in North Africa, the duo announced in a press statement.
The EU has set a budget of €15m ($16.69m) for the project, which will be implemented by the UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa under the framework of the North Africa Window of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
According to the UNODC, trafficking in persons is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, intending to exploit them. Smuggling of migrants involves the procurement for financial or other material benefits of illegal entry of a person into a state of which that person is not a national or resident.
The project aims at supporting member states in dismantling organized criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
The statement indicates that UNODC will achieve this objective through supporting the North African member states over different areas; improvement of the detection and interception capacities of front-line officers and agencies; strengthening capacities to identify and investigate migrant smuggling and human trafficking cases; protecting victims.
Furthermore, UNODC will also help countries in building the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies that will allow for the effective and rapid dismantling of criminal networks and strengthen the skills of criminal justice practitioners in cases of migrant smuggling and human trafficking, with an emphasis on regional and international cooperation.
According to the statement, UNODC and the European Union will help to prevent and combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the region, in close partnership with the governments of North Africa member states.
Consequently, putting an end to the horrific exploitation and violation to which refugees and migrants are exposed, the statement concludes.