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CORONAVIRUS — Children in danger of new forms of abuse…UN agency alerts the world

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Widespread disruption of trafficking routes for illegal drugs, mainly by air and on land increases prices of illicit drugs Pandemic creates new opportunities for organized crime to profit “Human trafficking is the result of the failure of our societies and economies to protect the most vulnerable”, UNODC chief  Migrants in serious crises United Nations Office on Drugs Control, UNODC says its partners report that due to the pandemic, more children are being forced onto the streets to search for food and money, thus increasing their risk of exploitation. School closures have not only blocked access to education but also a source of shelter and food for millions of children. The UN recently reported that some 370 million students worldwide are now missing out on school meals, often their only reliable source of nutrition. Elsewhere, a UN independent human rights expert has underlined the urgent need for child protection services during the pandemic. Mama Fatima Singhateh, fears the reported surge in violence against children, coupled with new forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, will have “devastating” lifelong implications for millions of youngsters worldwide. Even before the crisis, as many as 66 million children were already living in “a precarious socio-economic situation”, according to Ms. Singhateh, who is the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  ‘Drive-thru’ services for child sexual exploitation: Ms. Singhateh said travel restrictions have spawned new ways to sexually exploit and abuse children, such as attempts to establish “delivery” or “drive-thru” services. There has also been a spike in people trying to access illegal websites featuring child pornography. “Producing and accessing child sexual abuse material and live-stream child sexual abuse online has now become an easy alternative to groom and lure children into sexual activities and to trade images in online communities”, said Ms. Singhateh. In common with all the UN’s independent rights experts, she is not a UN staff member nor does she receive a salary from the Organization. Organized crime could benefit: UNODC warned that the pandemic has also created new opportunities for organized crime to profit. “Traffickers may become more active and prey on people who are even more vulnerable than before, because they have lost their source of income due to measures to control the virus”, said Mr. Chatzis, chief of the agency’s Human Trafficking Section. Some countries have diverted resources meant for fighting crime to…

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