Migrant smuggling tragedy "cannot continue"

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People risking sea journeys across the Bay of Bengal often set sail at night. Photo: UNHCR/S. Alam (file)

The smuggling of migrants in different parts of the world is a tragedy that can't be allowed to continue according to the chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Yury Fedotov made the comment as the 24th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice got underway in Vienna, Austria.

Daniel Dickinson reports

UN figures show that in the first three months of 2015 more than 1,800 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

And in South-East Asia, the number of migrants crossing the Bay of Bengal has almost doubled over the past year.

It's illegal people traffickers who are running these smuggling operations often on unseaworthy and thus dangerous boats.

UNODC chief, Yury Fedotov, has called for international action.

"Migrant smuggling is a crime that cuts across borders and that is intimately linked with peace and security, human rights and development – all three pillars of the United Nations. Our policies must be coherent, and our responses integrated and inclusive, uniting countries of origin, transit and destination, based on the principle of shared responsibility."

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has, in recent days, spoken to South-East Asian leaders to express his concern about the plight of migrants in the region.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’11″

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