First Published: 2008-03-15

 
Gulf to step up fight against human trafficking
 

Qatar conference calls for Arab agreement to combat human trafficking in all its forms.

 

Middle East Online

Low-paid Asian workers are vulnerable to abuse

DOHA - A conference in Qatar on human trafficking has urged Arab states to step up the fight against the scourge, seen as widespread in the pro-Western oil-rich Gulf region.

Delegates called for an agreement within the framework of the Arab League "to combat human trafficking in all its forms," according to a statement issued at the close of the conference late on Thursday.

They urged the Riyadh-based secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to take the lead in boosting "coordination and cooperation among member states to enhance measures to fight human trafficking."

The two-day conference was organised by Qatar and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, with the participation of representatives of the United Nations Children's Fund, jurists and human rights organisations.

Delegates called for "a network to exchange information and expertise on combating human trafficking under the supervision of the Arab League," and the inclusion in school and university curricula of material on fighting the phenomenon.

Five of the six GCC member states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- are on a blacklist of countries trafficking in people.

GCC countries, which also include the United Arab Emirates, are close allies of the United States.

International human rights groups have also highlighted the problem of human trafficking in the Gulf area, which hosts more than 13 million expatriates, many of them unskilled and low-paid Asian workers vulnerable to abuse.

Three other Arab countries -- Algeria, Sudan and Syria -- are on the list of worst offenders.

Qatar-based Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi told the conference human trafficking was banned under Islam. He slammed companies that bring in "migrant workers, give them a bare minimum of wages and pen them up like sheep" in crammed rooms as living quarters.

Nihal Fahmi, of the regional office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said annual profits from human trafficking come second to gains from drug trafficking, at 31 billion dollars.

She said the UN estimates that around 27 million of the world's people live in a state of servitude, with "around 100,000 women and children victims of sexual exploitation."

According to other UN estimates, around 2.5 million people -- 80 percent of them women and children -- are being trafficked around the world at any given time for such purposes as forced labour, sexual exploitation, the removal of organs and body parts, forced marriages, child adoption and begging.

The estimates also put annual global profits from trafficked forced labour at 31.6 billion dollars.

 

US approves $7 billion in arms deals to Arab allies

US says 50,000 IS jihadists killed in Iraq, Syria since 2014

Six killed in Egypt bomb blast

British FM says Saudi, Iran engaging in 'proxy wars'

Qatar to invest up to $13bn on 'mega projects' in 2017

400 migrants storm Spanish enclave border

IS claims Egypt cleric murders, threatens Sufis

UN Syria envoy planning to meet Trump team

Israel arrests alleged Hamas kidnap plotters

Greek court rejects extraditing last two Turkish 'coup' officers

Russian student faces jail after following IS lover to Syria

Yazidi leader calls on international community to help

UN reiterates fears for Aleppo children

Libya finds 266 IS bodies in former jihadist bastion Sirte

Turkey targets German diplomats at airports in revenge move

Aleppo White Helmets call for safe passage

Germany seeks to conclude training deal with Saudi

Egypt arrests son of former Islamist president

Israel joins forces with Greece, Cyprus to fight fire

Erdogan advisor says foreign TV chefs are spies

'No progress' in Kerry, Lavrov Syria meeting

Air force strikes IS fighters in western Iraq

Saudi arms self sufficiency may take years says chief

IS kills at least 26 Syrian regime fighters in Homs

Rosneft shares leap after deal with Glencore, Qatar

150 rescued from Aleppo health facility

Russia demands jail for student accused of trying to join IS

IS video reveals kidnapped British journalist alive

Two Hamas militants killed in Gaza tunnel collapse

Israel votes to approve settler homes bill

Dozens of civilians killed in Iraq air strike

Syrian regime confident of Aleppo victory

Libya's key oil region threatened by renewed fighting

Syria rebels call for Aleppo ceasefire

Rebel rockets scar west Aleppo residents

Egypt jails prominent NGO activist

Turkish soldier killed in Syria bomb blast

IS-linked group ousted from Somalia town

Kerry, Lavrov to resume Syria talks Wednesday

Egypt’s 'three-year strategy' seeks to revive struggling economy

Iraqis swarm to remarry after liberation from ‘caliphate’

Four drown, 34 rescued off Morocco coast

Israel to vote on bill to legalise West Bank settlements

Turkish businessmen embrace Erdogan’s plan to boost lira

Battle for Mosul advances deeper into city