Saturday, November 08, 2008

Human trafficking on the rise in Mekong countries

From Xinhua:

HANOI, Nov. 6 -- Human trafficking in the six Mekong countries is expected to increase due to growing migration within the sub-region, the Laos newspaper Vientiane Times reported on Thursday, citing the Anti-human Trafficking Committee Secretariat Head Kiengkham Inphengthavong as saying.

"Trafficking in persons nowadays is increasingly acute and dangerous. It operates in a very intricate manner, and comes in many forms, and is therefore very hard to monitor and control," said Kiengkham Inphengthavong at the sixth Senior Officials Meeting held in Vientiane on Wednesday as part of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT).

Annually, the number of people trafficked from and within the region is estimated at between 200,000 and 450,000, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The meeting brought together government officials from the six Mekong countries - Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Myanmar and Cambodia - to share their experiences and decide on appropriate responses to the increase in human trafficking.

"The purpose of human trafficking is not only for sexual exploitation but also labor exploitation in factories, sweatshops, domestic work, begging and in the fishing industry. The problem is far more widespread than many would think," he added.

According to the Laos' Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, from 2001 to 2008, 1,229 trafficked people, mostly women and girls, have been repatriated to Laos from Thailand under the Lao-Thai memorandum of understanding on human trafficking.

Laos is developing victim protection guidelines to ensure a more holistic and rights-based approach to the provision of care and assistance to victims of human trafficking, Khiengkham said.

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