By Katy Migiro
More than 100,000 people were smuggled out of eastern Africa in 2012, heroin seizures are soaring and ivory poaching has risen to levels that could threaten local elephant populations, the United Nations said in a report on organised crime on Tuesday.
Most of the people being smuggled are Ethiopians and Somalis hoping to find a better life working in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. En route, they are often kidnapped, tortured and held for ransom.
“This is driven in part by high levels of conflict and poverty which have resulted in a large and vulnerable stream of migrants,” the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement.
“Many of those trying to escape the situations they face are subjected to a range of abuses, including confinement, beatings, extortion and rape at multiple stages of their journey.”
Criminal networks are behind the human smuggling trade, earning $15 million a year for organising the dangerous voyage across the Gulf of Aden or Red Sea.
The other growing criminal enterprises explored in the report, Transnational Organized Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment, are heroin trafficking from South-West Asia, ivory trafficking to Asia and Somali piracy. More....