UN shines attention on fighting human trafficking in Europe and Asia

31 March 2005

United Nations agencies cast a spotlight today on fighting human trafficking at opposite ends of the Earth, warning that the root causes are not being adequately addressed in South Eastern Europe while praising government moves in Southeast Asia to forge a concrete, detailed strategy to combat the problem.

United Nations agencies cast a spotlight today on fighting human trafficking at opposite ends of the Earth, warning that the root causes are not being adequately addressed in South Eastern Europe while praising government moves in Southeast Asia to forge a concrete, detailed strategy to combat the problem.

Anti-trafficking measures in South Eastern Europe are still dominated by repressive measures to prevent migration, prostitution and organised crime, while preventive strategies to fight such root causes as poverty, discrimination, lack of education and job prospects, are few and far between, according to a new report launched in Geneva.

The report, published by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), focuses on Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro including UN-administered Kosovo.

“The report shows that there is no comprehensive long-term prevention strategy. Yet prevention is the key to success in curbing this crime,” OSCE Special Representative on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Helga Konrad said. “A coordinated approach to the problem is central to effective and sustainable solutions.”

Among other goals, the report calls for greater efforts to empower those who have been trafficked or who are at risk by tackling root causes in countries of origin and destination, further strengthening social protection systems to prevent child trafficking, and greater understanding of trafficking within the broader context of development, gender equality and poverty reduction, with responses shaped accordingly.

The report highlights the changing nature of trafficking, with girls and women increasingly trafficked within countries and men increasingly trafficked for labour.

Meanwhile in Hanoi, Viet Nam, senior officials from the six Mekong countries – Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – agreed today on a Sub-regional Plan of Action against human trafficking for the next three years, focusing on law enforcement and prevention, protection and recovery of victims.

The plan, which includes collaboration on the investigation and prosecution of traffickers and on supportive systems of repatriation and assistance to help trafficked victims return home, will be buttressed by the technical expertise and support of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bilateral and multilateral donors.

“The people of Viet Nam, the people of the sub-region, and in fact, people around the world will be the true beneficiaries of this collaboration built today,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Vietnam Jordan Ryan said, calling the meeting a “watershed event.”

 

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