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J Immigr Health. 2000 Apr;2(2):67-78.

Health issues associated with the smuggling and trafficking of migrants.

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Medical Services, International Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland.


Approximately 4 million persons annually may be smuggled illegally across international borders. In 1997 it was estimated that 700,000 women or children were smuggled across international borders, of whom 175,000 were estimated to come from the former Soviet bloc; approximately 45,000-50,000 smuggled women and children arrived in the United States in that year. This article develops a framework to consider the impact of human trafficking on health within the context of migrant health and the destination population's health. Health risks are assumed by the individual being smuggled during the pre-journey, migratory, and arrival phases. In addition, the recipient country's population may also incur additional health burdens related to illegal arrivals from higher disease prevalence areas of the world. Some of this disease risk potential may be from transmissible agents, but there is increasing concern, and some evidence, that noncontagious diseases may be a significant problem associated with human trafficking. The global consideration of human smuggling and the individual and social impact on health are the focus of this paper.

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