Criminal groups benefit US$2 billion annually in Asia through people smuggling leading to serious human rights abuses and deaths, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned on the April 28.
The report released on April 28 outlined people smuggling operations in 28 states from the Middle East to the Pacific, with groups exploiting porous borders and the demand for migration, with fees as high as US $50,000.
Most migrants fall victim to human trafficking in search of a better life, which leads to situations of abuse and exploitation.
Migrants are using smugglers to access employment in foreign countries; most employment is illegal which leaves migrants vulnerable to abuse of basic rights.
Southeast Asia regionally is a platform for smuggled migrants to access routes to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
Myanmar is known as a source and transit country. People transited through Myanmar are mainly Bangladeshis destined for Malaysia and Chinese victims being smuggled to Thailand, according to a 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.
Years of brutal dictatorship at the hands of the Myanmar military has forced an unknown number of citizens to other countries, mainly those in ethnic areas due to ongoing civil wars which continues to leave a large proportion of civilians displaced.
UNODC Regional Representative, Jeremy Douglas said, “The cross-boarder movement of people in Asia is expected to grow rapidly at unprecedented levels, in part due to new infrastructure projects and the opening of boarders.”
Adding that the use of smugglers poses a major risk to migrant’s health and safety.
Last week ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights released a report that the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has all the signs of genocide.
The report stated, “The longstanding persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the US war in Vietnam.”
APHR MPs traveled to Myanmar in early April and were shocked by growing extremism and hate speech, mostly ignored by the government.