Thursday, July 03, 2008

Trafficking occurs in the wake of Cyclone Nargis

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — More than 80 women and children who were victims of Myanmar's recent cyclone have been rescued from human traffickers scheming to smuggle them to neighboring countries, a media report said Thursday.

Border police caught the traffickers, who had taken victims of Cyclone Nargis from the Irrawaddy delta to border areas, between June 11 and 14, the well-regarded biweekly journal Eleven reported, citing police.

Police Lt. Col. Rahlyan Mone, from the force's human trafficking division, told the Yangon-based journal that victims facing hardship are being enticed with job offers abroad by traffickers disguised as aid workers.

Police and other authorities who deal with human trafficking could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cross-border trafficking, especially to Thailand, has grown in recent years as people in one of the world's poorest nations seek opportunities elsewhere but are often tricked or coerced into prostitution or sweatshops.

The ruling junta has warned against exploitation of cyclone victims and urged the public to report any evidence of human trafficking.

Myanmar introduced an anti-human trafficking law in September 2005 that imposes a maximum penalty of death.

Local and foreign aid officials fear that trafficking could increase in the wake of the cyclone, which hit Myanmar May 2 to 3, killing more than 84,500 people and leaving nearly 54,000 missing, according to the government.

The last numbers of the article forgot to include the estimated 110,000 who have been displaced by the damage caused by the cyclone, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers.

Despite the rather strict laws against trafficking in Myanmar, the U.S. TIP Report still lists the country in Tier Three and cites that (listed as Burma), "The military junta’s gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma’s significant trafficking problem."

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