View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

UAE Fights Human Trafficking

The UAE figured in the United Nations discussions and press statements when for the first time the UN devoted the entire day (3 June 2008) to dealing with the issue of human trafficking.

Anwar Gargash, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said that the UAE, which has been a strong supporter of UN.GIFT since its inception, is endeavouring to address the problem.

The country’s ‘wake-up call’ came in the form when it was discovered that camel jockeys were being exploited, he said at a press conference today and convinced the UAE that global partnerships were key to tackling the problem of trafficking due to its transnational nature.

“We understand that it is not a stigma to have human trafficking but the stigma is not to do anything about it,” Mr. Gargash said, adding that the UAE is leading the fight in the region against human trafficking.

The United Nations estimates that at any given time 2.5 million people find themselves in situations that are defined as forced labor or sexual exploitation. Fifty-six percent, 1.4 million, are in Asia and the Pacific.

The global organization says human trafficking—the issue of forced labor and exploitation—affects more than 160 nations that serve either as a source, a transit point or a destination.

According to figures from the International Labor Organization, the majority of trafficking victims are between the ages of 18 and 24. The United Nations Children Funds, UNICEF, estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. Another recent study says that 95 percent of trafficked people experience physical or sexual violence.

UN studies show that the estimated annual global profit from trafficked people is almost $32 billion. Almost half of that is generated in industrialized economies.

So far, 116 nations have ratified a UN protocol against trafficking, the only international agreement that addresses human trafficking as a crime. The Trafficking Protocol requires ratifying nations to criminalize human trafficking and help victims.

Source: ‘Words Must be put into Action to Fight Human Trafficking’, UN News Centre, 3 June 2008.

Image: Robot jockeys have replaced child jockeys in the UAE since 2005.