UN chief warns that traffickers may be guilty of war crimes

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United Nations Secretary General António Guterres at his first press conference with UN correspondents. (Bebeto Matthews, AP)
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres at his first press conference with UN correspondents. (Bebeto Matthews, AP)

New York - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says terrorist groups and criminals are capitalising on conflict to exploit innocent civilians sexually and physically, which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UN chief said the brutality of extremist groups such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and the Lord's Resistance Army "knows no bounds" and sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, and the removal of organs without consent "are the tools of their trade."

Guterres called for urgent action to combat human trafficking and highlighted the recent video of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya and extremists forcing women, boys and girls into "de-humanising servitude."

He spoke at a Security Council meeting on Tuesday shortly before members unanimously adopted a resolution condemning instances of human trafficking "in the strongest terms."

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